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Study: Nearly 13M in U.S. skip, delay meds due to cost

By HealthDay News
Study: Nearly 13M in U.S. skip, delay meds due to cost
Millions of people in the United States skip or delay prescription medications because they can't afford them, according to a new study. Photo by TBIT/Pixabay

Nearly 13 million U.S. adults a year skip or delay filling needed prescriptions due to high price tags, new research shows.

This figure includes more than 2.3 million Medicare beneficiaries and 3.8 million privately insured working-age adults who didn't get needed medications each year in 2018 and 2019 because of cost, according to a nationally representative survey of U.S. households.

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"It's tragic that millions of people don't take needed prescription drugs because they can't afford them," said Katherine Hempstead, a senior policy adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the study.

"As we recover from COVID-19 and try to create a more equitable society, ensuring that prescription drugs are affordable must be a policy priority," Hempstead said in a news release from the Urban Institute, which conducted and published the study.

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The survey also revealed that 25% of Medicare beneficiaries and 5% of privately insured adults spent more than 1% of their family income on their individual out-of-pocket prescription drug costs.

More than 3% of Medicare beneficiaries and nearly 7% of beneficiaries with unmet medication needs spent more than 10% of their family income on prescription drugs.

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About 1 in 10 adults who were uninsured all or part of the year had unmet prescription drug needs, compared with 4.9% of Medicare beneficiaries, 3% of privately insured adults, and 5.6% of non-elderly adults with Medicaid.

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Unmet prescription needs were highest among women, people with low incomes and those with multiple chronic health conditions, the researchers said.

"Policies to reduce drug prices, limit out-of-pocket costs, and expand health insurance coverage could help many people get the prescription drugs they're currently unable to pay for," said lead author Michael Karpman, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute.

More information

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There's more on prescription drug costs at the Kaiser Family Foundation.Copyright © 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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