Many Americans Skip Medications to Save Money, CDC Reports

New data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Health Interview Survey show that Americans use a variety of strategies to lower the cost of their prescription medications.

According to the report, the use of cost-reducing strategies such as asking doctors for less expensive options, not taking medicine as prescribed, or using alternative nonprescription therapies remained constant from 2015 to 2017, after having fallen during the previous two-year period.

Uninsured people most often used these types of strategies, with 39.5 percent reporting having asked their doctor for a lower-cost medication, 33.6 percent not taking their medication as prescribed, and 13.9 percent using alternative therapies. Also, women were more likely than men to employ these financial strategies.

The CDC noted that the use of strategies to reduce prescription drug costs may have implications for health status, as they have been associated with poorer clinical outcomes, including increased emergency room use and hospitalizations.

Reigning in the exorbitant cost of prescription drugs has been amongst the nation’s top concerns, with support from the Trump administration and lawmakers. In late February, leadership from seven top pharmaceutical companies testified before Congress in a hearing on the price of brand-name drugs.

Sources: CNN, March 19, 2019; NCHS Data Brief, March 2019.