Strategies Used by Adults to Reduce Their Prescription Drug Costs: United States, 2013

January 29, 2015

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.


Health, United States, 2013 explores the Nation’s health status; special feature on use of prescription drugs

May 14, 2014

Picture1The National Center for Health Statistics announces the release of Health, United States, 2013.

Health, United States is the annual report on the health status of the Nation, submitted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to the President and Congress. The 2013 report includes a rich compilation of health data through 2012 from a number of sources within the federal government and in the private sector.

Each year the report focuses on a special topic of importance to current discussions in public health. This year’s special feature is on Prescription Drugs in the United States. Among the highlights:

  • In 2007-2010, almost one-half of the U.S. population took at least one prescription drug in the preceding month and 1 in 10 reported taking five or more drugs.
  • Prescription drug use in 2007-2010 increased with age, from 1 in 4 children to 9 in 10 persons aged 65 and over.
  • In 2007-2010, cardiovascular agents (used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, or kidney disease) and cholesterol lowering drugs were two of the most commonly used classes of prescription drugs among adults.
  • In 2012, adults aged 18-64 who were uninsured for all or part of the past year were more than four times as likely to report not getting needed prescription drugs due to cost as adults who were insured for the whole year.
  • Drug poisoning deaths involving opioid analgesics among those aged 15 and over more than tripled in the past decade, from 1.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 1999-2000 to 6.6 in 2009-2010.
  • In 2010, 53.7% of physician offices, 50.3% of hospital outpatient departments, 58.1% of hospital emergency departments and 19.7% of residential care facilities had a computerized prescription ordering system.

Detailed tables and charts display health statistics trends over time on birth and death rates, infant mortality, life expectancy, morbidity and health status, risk factors, use of ambulatory and inpatient care, health personnel and facilities, financing of health care, health insurance and managed care, and other health topics. Just a few of the highlights from the 2013 report include:

  • Between 2002 and 2012, the birth rate among teenagers aged 15-19 fell 31%, from 42.6 to 29.4 live births per 1,000 females, reaching a record low.
  • In 2009-2012 nearly one-half of adults aged 20 and over with hypertension continued to have uncontrolled high blood pressure.
  • In 2011, there were 126 million visits to hospital outpatient departments and 136 million visits to hospital emergency departments.
  • Between 2002 and 2012, among adults aged 18-64, the percentage who reported not receiving or delaying seeking needed medical care due to cost in the past 12 months increased from 9.7% to 13.3%.
  • In 2011, there were 26.1 physicians in patient care per 10,000 population in the United States. The number of patient care physicians per 100,000 population ranged from 17.7 in Idaho to 41.1 in Massachusetts and 68.3 in the District of Columbia.

A variety of resources can be found on the Health, United States webpage, including the full report featuring a chartbook and trend tables. A special abridged edition, Health, United States, 2013: In Brief is also available as a companion to the full report. Trend tables are available as downloadable spreadsheet files for data manipulation or graphical analysis. Data trends may be more complete in spreadsheet files than in pdf files, as data are updated throughout the year. The Preface describes changes and additions to the current report. Major findings are presented in the Highlights. At a Glance Table is a data summary, useful when you need to find the latest data quickly. The Appendix includes data sources and definitions and methods. The Index  is a topical index with cross references to such topics as child and adolescent health, elderly population, specific race and ethnic groups, State data, and women’s health.