Approximately one-fifth (18%) of the $263 billion spent on retail prescription drugs in the United States in 2012 was paid out of pocket. Some adults offset the cost of prescription drugs by reducing the dosage and frequency of the recommended pharmacotherapy. Other cost-saving strategies include asking providers for less-expensive medications or purchasing medications abroad.
A new NCHS report updates previously reported estimates for strategies used by U.S. adults aged 18 and over to reduce their prescription drug costs, using data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey.
Key Findings from the Report:
- To save money, almost 8% of U.S. adults (7.8%) did not take their medication as prescribed, 15.1% asked a doctor for a lower-cost medication, 1.6% bought prescription drugs from another country, and 4.2% used alternative therapies.
- Adults aged 18–64 (8.5%) were nearly twice as likely as adults aged 65 and over (4.4%) to have not taken their medication as prescribed to save money.
- Among adults aged 18–64, uninsured adults (14.0%) were more likely than those with Medicaid (10.4%) or private coverage (6.1%) to have not taken their medication as prescribed to save money.
- The poorest adults—those with incomes below 139% of the federal poverty level—were the most likely to not take medication as prescribed to save money.