Seniors in U.S., Canada skip prescriptions due to cost

An analysis of two studies has found that more seniors are not filling prescriptions due to rising drug prices.
By Amy Wallace   |   Feb. 1, 2017 at 10:35 AM

Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Researchers from the University of British Columbia have discovered that seniors from 11 high-income countries were not filling doctor's prescriptions due to cost.

The team analyzed data from the 2014 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Older Adults of seniors in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The study, published in BMJ Open, looked at the prevalence of filling or not filling prescriptions among seniors age 55 and older. In the United States, 16.8 percent of respondents reported skipping prescriptions due to cost. The second highest rate was in Canada with 8.3 percent, followed by Australia with 6.8 percent. The remaining countries had non-adherence rates of roughly 2 to 4 percent.

"When patients stop filling their prescriptions, their conditions get worse and they often end up in hospital requiring more care which in the long run costs us more money," Steve Morgan, professor at the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health and senior author of the study, said in a press release.

Canada, which had the second-highest rate of seniors not filling prescriptions, has publicly-funded healthcare but does not cover prescription drugs.

In a separate review of the survey responses from Canada, published in CMAJ Open, the study found that one in eight Canadians age 55 to 64 reported not filling prescriptions due to cost compared to one in 20 Canadians age 65 and older. In Canada, seniors over age 65 qualify for comprehensive public drug coverage depending on the province where they live.

The study showed that Canadians without health insurance were twice as likely to not fill prescriptions due to cost and low-income Canadians were three times more likely to not fill prescriptions.

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