Top 4 strategies used by adults to reduce prescription drug costs – CDC report

cdc prescription costs strategies (Robson#)

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that adults under the age of 65 are twice more likely than those over the age of 65 to not take their prescribed medications as prescribed to save money.

The important fact in this story is that once an adult in the US turns 65, most are eligible for Medicare, the government health program. The study used 2011 data from the National Health Interview Survey to show that 5.8% of adults aged over 65 reported not taking their medications as prescribed to reduce costs, compared with 13% of those aged 18 to 64. The cost-cutting methods included skipping doses, consuming less than prescribed, and even delaying filling in the prescription altogether.

The four strategies used by adults to reduce prescription drug costs, as highlighted by the CDC report, are:

  • Ask their doctor for a lower-cost medication
    • Adults aged 18-64 and those aged 65 and over were equally likely to ask their doctor for a lower-cost medication to save money (19.8% and 20.3%, respectively)
  • Not take medication as prescribed
    • Adults aged 18-64 were twice as likely as adults aged 65 and over to not take medication as prescribed to save money (12.6% and 5.8%).
  • Use alternative therapies
    • 6% percent of adults aged 18-64 used alternative therapies to save money on prescription drugs compared with 2.3% of adults aged 65 and over.
  • Buy prescription drugs from another country
    • 2% of adults from both age groups bought prescription drugs from another country to save money.

"If you're not insured or you face high co-payments, you're going to stretch your prescriptions," Steve Morgan, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health in Vancouver, told Bloomberg.

But it's not just about insurance – age also seems to be an important factor. "Even among insured populations, there is this invincibility mindset among the very young. Older people are more likely to adhere to chronic therapies over a longer period of time than younger," said Morgan.

Read the CDC report here >

If cost is a major factor leading to poor compliance, then it would seem unlikely that measures such as text message reminders would have an effect at boosting compliance rates. What do you think?

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