A full ten percent of Americans say they cannot afford to take the medications prescribed to them because of rising costs. Many will take less than instructed in order to “stretch” out the prescription or simply delay buying the medicine. Others don’t even consider the possibility of buying it later when they know they won’t have an additional $300 lying around. This is a dangerous trend, especially for our elderly.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 15% of American adults have requested from their doctors a lower cost alternative.
- 2% have bought drugs in another country, especially in those countries where drugs may not be closely regulated.
- 4% have tried “alternative therapies.
The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) says that, “Not taking medications as prescribed can have serious consequences… People who do not take their medication as prescribed have more hospitalizations, emergency room visits and an increased burden of their illness.” This includes older Americans who are unsure of the resources, such as Medicaid and Medicare that are available to them. In fact, 4.5 percent of those older the age of 65 do not take their medications as prescribed in order to save money. Three percent of older Americans will delay having their prescriptions filled. To provide context: 7.8 percent of all adults do not take their medications as prescribed to save money – and as mentioned, 4.5 percent of them are over the age of 65.
Adults younger than 64, about 6 percent with private insurance skipped medications to save money, compared with 10.4 percent of those with Medicaid and 14 percent of uninsured patients. Those who live in poverty or are considered low income are also at high risk of not taking their medicines as prescribed. Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University prevention Research Center explains, “Poor adherence to prescribed medication use is a significant problem with potentially serious consequences.” He goes on to say that it makes sense for public and private insurers to remove all barriers to access and, if anything, add incentives for those in need of these important medicines. “Failure to use an important medication portends complications, a bad outcome and higher costs,” Katz said.
Medicaid and Medicare Guidance
There are recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, including ways for people, and especially seniors and the elderly, to save money on their prescription drugs:
- As your doctor if generic or other lower-cost medications are available
- Compare and choose an insurance plan that offers additional drug coverage
- Consider drug assistance plans offered by pharmacies and states
- If you haven’t applied yet for Medicaid, Medicare and/or Social Security, you should as it can help reduce costs.
- Consider checking into community-based charities for additional assistance with medication costs
And of course, our team of elder law attorneys welcome the opportunity to provide legal direction for you or your loved one. Contact DeBruyckere Law Offices today to learn more about the role of Medicaid and Medicare in your overall health and what options you may have.