At the beginning of this year, Prescription Justice, the non-profit organization I founded, released an analysis showing that about 45 million Americans did not fill a prescription in 2016 due to cost. We derived that figure by looking at 2016 survey data by the Commonwealth Fund, a research organization dedicated to healthcare policy. Its international survey showed that 18% of the adult population in the U.S. did not fill a prescription due to cost. The UK’s rate was nine times lower at 2%.
Last week, I came across new information that showed about six million Americans of Medicare age were included among the 45 million. A new cross-sectional study of Commonwealth Fund international survey data from 2014 shows the percentage of older adults, 55 and up, that do not take medication because of drug prices. People in 11 high-income countries—22,532 overall—were asked if they had gone without prescribed medications in the past year because of cost.
In the U.S., 16.8% of 1593 people said yes.
For those 65 and older the percentage was 12%.
U.S. Census data from July of 2016 shows that there are about 48 million Americans 65 and older.
That means 5.8 million Americans, 65 and older, forgo taking their meds due to cost.
For international comparison: the percentage of older people skipping medications due to prices in the UK was 3.1%. In France, it was only 1.6%.
Sadly, it was quite high in Canada and Australia: 8.3%, and 6.8%, respectively.
The academic, medical term for such medication skipping because of prices is called cost-related nonadherence (CRNA). It’s a serious public health issue, one in which Americans end up getting sicker, going to the emergency room, or dead solely because they can’t pay for medications. As we move into the season when Medicare beneficiaries pick Part D plans, we’ll continue to look at how our oldest citizens are affected by high drug prices. But it’s clear that Medicare pharmacy benefits are falling far short of what is needed. While price should not block ANYONE from essential medications, the fact that so many millions of our oldest citizens who need their prescribed meds the most are forced to go without is disgusting.
Tagged with: Commonwealth Fund, CRNA, older americans