One in Five Disabled Adults Skip Medicines Due to Cost

People with disabilities, racial minorities, and those without health insurance are most likely not to take medications as prescribed to reduce costs, CDC data shows.

According to the National Health Interview Survey published last week, about 60% of American adults aged 18 to 64 reported taking at least one prescription medication in 2021.

As out-of-pocket costs on retail drugs rose by 4.8%, Americans employed money-saving strategies such as skipping medication doses, taking less medication, or delaying filling a prescription.

Some 8.2% of adults who took prescription drugs in the past 12 months reported not taking medications as prescribed to reduce costs in 2021. Women (9.1%) were more likely than men (7.0%) not to follow the prescription to save money.

Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black, and multiple race adults were more likely not to take medication as prescribed compared to non-Hispanic white or non-Hispanic Asian Americans.

One in five (20.0%) adults with disabilities reported not taking drugs as prescribed, compared to 7.1% of adult Americans without disabilities. Adults in fair or poor health were almost three times more likely than those in excellent, very good, or good health not to follow the prescription.

Uninsured adults (22.9%) were the most likely not to take medications as prescribed, followed by adults with other health coverage (11.4%), Medicaid (8.0%), and those with private health insurance (6.5%).

The CDC estimates that non-adherence to prescription causes 30 to 50 percent of chronic disease treatment failures and 125,000 deaths annually in the United States. However, with the rising medication costs, many people have no choice.

Previous research suggests that up to 1.3 million Americans, or about one in six people with diabetes, reported rationing insulin due to high cost in 2021. Younger adults and the uninsured were most likely to ration the medication.


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