Fewer Consumers Able to Afford Pharmaceutical Purchases

Fewer Consumers Able to Afford Pharmaceutical Purchases

September 14th, 2012 // 6:05 pm @

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And the answer is, not surprisingly, a lot of folks are having some trouble. A new survey finds that more than half of those queried – and 84 percent under the age of 65 without a drug benefit – say they pay for their medications by cutting other household expenses or changing how they manage their finances. This included spending on groceries, entertainment and family activities, or relying more on their credit cards, according to Consumer Reports.

Specifically, 45 percent of individuals under the age of 65 who do not have a drug benefit did not fill prescriptions because of cost compared with 27 percent last year. Of those who do have a drug benefit, 18 percent – nearly one in five people – also chose not to fill a prescription due to cost. That’s up from 16 percent in 2011, a much smaller increase, although the trend is rising, nonetheless. The survey asked 1,158 adults who were 18 years and older.

Of the 59 percent who have a drug benefit, 28 percent spent less on entertainment and eating out, down from 32 percent last year. Meanwhile, 21 percent spent less on groceries; 19 percent spent less on their family, down from 22 percent; 15 percent postponed paying other bills; 14 percent used credit cards more often and 15 percent applied for government assistance, up from 12 percent. In some cases, there was little to no change from 2011.

Of those without a drug benefit this year, 58 percent spent less on entertainment and eating out, up from 45 percent; 35 percent spent less on groceries, nearly unchanged; 31 percent spent less on family, up from 28 percent; 22 percent spent used credit cards more often, which was unchanged; 43 percent postponed paying other bills, up from 23 percent in 2011; and 28 percent applied for government assistance, up from 27 percent (here is the press release).

Meanwhile, 69 percent of those lacking a drug benefit experienced some financial difficulty, compared with 36 percent of those with a drug benefit. And half of those without a drug benefit were unable to pay medical bills versus just 15 percent with a drug benefit. Those without drug coverage were far more likely to say they had problems affording medical and drug bills, difficulty paying for gasoline, missing payments on major bills and missing mortgage payments.

And many without drug coverage and many more than last year — 81 percent compared with 65 percent — tried to save money over the last year in different ways: 63 percent postponed doctor visits, up 16 percent; 62 percent declined medical tests, up 29 percent; 51 percent skipped a procedure, up 12 percent; and 45 percent failed to fill a prescription, up 19 percent. Some used expired meds or cut pills in half without approval from their doctor or pharmacist.

Meanwhile, 32 percent of consumers failed to comply with directions to take a prescription, up 4 percent from 2011. Lack of compliance was most prevalent among those younger than 65 years old without a drug benefit, or 59 percent; those between 18 and 39 years old, or 43 percent; those with monthly out-of-pocket drug spending greater than $50, or 43 percent; and those with household income under $40,000, or 42 percent.

Other nuggets: consumers said they spend an average of $63 out of pocket per month for drugs takeg regularly, and 12 percent spend more than $100. Among those currently taking a medicine, the average number of prescriptions taken is 4.1. Only 6 percent learned about drug costs during a doctor visit, but 52 percent did, at one point, mention to their doctors they want to switch prescriptions and, of those, 36 percent cited a reason related to cost.


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