A recent report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sheds light on a concerning issue: a significant number of adults in the United States are not adhering to their prescribed medications due to financial constraints. The report highlights the detrimental impact of rising drug costs on healthcare outcomes and the potential consequences of medication non-adherence.
According to the CDC data, more than 8% of adults aged 18 to 64, approximately 9.2 million individuals, attempted to save money by altering their medication routines. Measures taken included skipping doses, taking lower-than-prescribed doses, or delaying prescription refills. This behavior reflects the burdensome costs associated with prescription drugs. Although average drug costs did not see a significant increase in 2021, the overall number of prescriptions rose, resulting in higher expenditure. Over a third of adults reported taking at least three prescription medications in the same year, leading to a total prescription drug cost increase of nearly 5% from 2020 to 2021, reaching a staggering $63 billion, as per health analytics company IQVIA.
The consequences of delaying or adjusting medication intake can be severe, potentially exacerbating health conditions and necessitating additional treatments. The CDC data underlines the need for affordable access to medications, especially for life-saving drugs. For instance, an earlier study revealed that 1 in 6 people with diabetes had to ration their insulin due to financial constraints. Dr. Adam Gaffney, lead author of the study, emphasizes the life-threatening consequences of insulin rationing, particularly in a country as affluent as the United States.
The CDC report highlights significant disparities in medication non-adherence related to cost. Approximately 23% of adults lacking health insurance reported not adhering to their prescribed medications to mitigate expenses. In contrast, less than 7% of individuals with private insurance faced the same issue. Furthermore, people with disabilities were three times more likely to ration their medications compared to those without disabilities. Similar trends were observed in individuals with fair or poor health status compared to those with good health. Additionally, the CDC data indicates that women are more likely than men to struggle with medication costs and subsequent non-adherence.
The findings from the CDC report underscore the pressing need to address the affordability of prescription medications in the United States. The financial burden imposed on individuals leads to compromised health outcomes, potentially requiring more extensive and costly treatments in the long run. The disparities observed across different demographics necessitate targeted interventions to ensure equitable access to essential medications. As healthcare costs continue to rise, collaborative efforts are crucial to developing sustainable solutions that prioritize the well-being of all Americans.