September 2012 – Two new Consumer Reports surveys highlight the dangerous risks that Americans are taking due to the high cost of prescription medications.
A pair of surveys of adults who take prescription medications offered a stark portrait of medication compliance nationwide. In the six months preceding the surveys, over half of all respondents reported cutting back on other household expenses or changing how they manage their finances in order to pay for medications. Many resorted to taking potentially dangerous risks with their health.
While the surveys suggest that the nearly 45 million Americans without insurance have been hit the hardest, an astounding 52% of insured adults took some action in order to save money on health care. And the most common economizing measures are perhaps the most dangerous. These include putting off a doctor’s visit or delaying a medical procedure because of cost.
When it comes to prescription drugs, nearly 1 in 5 did not fill a presciption because of cost. Others chose to skip a scheduled dose or cut pills in half, without permission from ther doctor or pharmacist. The result is an America in which over half of all insured Americans and some 80% of uninsured are taking some measure of risk with their health due to cost.
Collateral damage in this crisis is a widening rift in the doctor/patient relationship. According to the Consumer Reports article, “High numbers of all survey respondents (47%) reported being uncomfortable talking to their doctor about their financial difficulties.” Almost no one received information regarding the cost of their medication while at the doctor’s office, although about 1 in 3 said they asked their doctor about getting a less-expensive medication or one covered by their insurance.
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