A new report from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals nearly one third of uninsured Americans in 2017 used their prescribed medicine differently than recommended in an attempt to lower costs.
According to the CDC, of the nearly 60 percent of adults aged 18 to 64 who were prescribed medication in the past 12 months, uninsured adults were more likely to strategize to reduce prescription drug costs compared to folks with private insurance or Medicaid. Women were also more likely than men to do so.
Nearly 40 percent of uninsured adults in the report asked their doctor for a lower-cost medication, 33.6 percent didn’t take their medication as prescribed and 13.9 percent used alternative therapies—all commonly used strategies to try and reduce costs.
Over the past 12 years, the cost of popular prescription drugs have gone up at more than four times the rate of inflation, WSB Radio’s Jamie Dupree reported in January.
"For years, drug companies have been aggressively increasing prices on existing drugs and setting higher launch prices for new drugs while recording windfall profits," Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the head of the House Oversight Committee, wrote in letters to major pharmaceutical companies earlier this year.
Cummings’ and his colleagues, he added, are “investigating the actions of drug companies in raising prescription drug prices in the United States, as well as the effects of these actions on federal and state budgets and on American families.”
According to Dupree, the letters were sent after Democratic legislation—which President Donald Trump backed—called for price reductions for prescription drugs. At a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the subject, CEOs of drug companies acknowledged there’s room for improvement, but placed blame on insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.
“The extraordinary public accounting was a sign that Congress and the White House are moving toward legislation this year to curb costs,” The AJC reported about the 2019 hearing.
New findings echo previous sentiments
Nearly 80 percent of Americans report the cost of prescription drugs are “unreasonable” and require “more government regulation,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's most recent tracking poll. In fact, 30 percent of folks reported not taking their medicines as prescribed at some point because of the high cost despite admitting the drugs are necessary, and make people’s lives “a lot better.”
Of those taking medicine, Kaiser’s analysis found one-quarter of adults and seniors had trouble affording their drugs. “The most affected groups,” the report noted, “include people in fair or poor health, with low incomes, or taking at least 4 drugs monthly.”
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