-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- Cash-strapped Americans
often skip doses of pricey prescription drugs or take less than was
prescribed by their doctor, new research shows.
Not surprising, a lack of insurance coverage was a key factor in
whether patients went without needed meds, according to a report
released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
Skipping medicines can have real consequences for health, the
"Adults who do not take prescription medication as prescribed have been shown to have poorer health status and increased emergency room use, hospitalizations and cardiovascular events," said the team led by Robin Cohen of the NCHS's Division of Health Interview Statistics.
Last year Americans spent $45 billion out of pocket on
prescription drugs, according to the CDC, but Americans continue to
seek new ways to lower those costs. Overall, almost 20 percent of
Americans between 18 and 64 years of age asked their doctor for a
less expensive medication so they could save money, the new report
found, and about the same number of older Americans did the
The research also showed that younger adults (between 18 and 64
years of age) were twice as likely to forego needed medications to
save money, compared to adults aged 65 or older.
Uninsured adults were much more likely to try to save money on
their prescription drugs. The CDC report showed that about 23
percent of uninsured people between 18 and 64 years old without
coverage skipped taking their medicine to reduce costs, compared to
about 14 percent of those with Medicaid and around 9 percent with
private insurance. Those who the agency described as "poor or near
poor" were also twice as likely as adults who were not poor not to
take medication as prescribed.
Older Americans covered only by Medicare were more likely to
seek out less expensive alternatives to their medications as well.
The report revealed that about one-quarter of people covered by
Medicare alone asked their doctor to find them something cheaper,
compared to about one-fifth of those with private insurance.
The report also revealed that 6 percent of adults between the
ages of 18 and 64 opted for less expensive alternative therapies,
compared with 2.3 percent of adults aged 65 and older. About one in
every 50 American adults also purchased their prescription drugs
outside the United States in an attempt to save money.
The researchers compiled the research using data from the 2011
National Health Interview Survey. The full report was published
April 9 on the website of the National Center for Health
The Kaiser Family Foundation provides more information on
prescription drug costs.
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