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Patients Using Different Rx Strategies to Save Money

Cost-saving strategies differ by age, health insurance status, and poverty status

TUESDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- Adults in the U.S. who are poor or uninsured are more likely to ask for lower-cost alternatives or not to take their prescribed medications, according to research published in the April NCHS Data Brief.

Robin A. Cohen, Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Health Interview Statistics in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed 2011 National Health Interview Survey data to report on different strategies used by adults to reduce their prescription drug costs.

According to the researchers, 19.8 percent of adults aged 18 and 64, and 20.3 percent of adults aged 65 and over, asked their doctor for a lower-cost alternative to save money. Twice as many adults aged 18 to 64 do not take their prescribed medications to save money compared to adults aged 65 and over (12.6 percent versus 5.8 percent, respectively). Among adults aged 18 to 64, those without health insurance (23.1 percent) were most likely not to take their medications compared to those with Medicare (13.6 percent) or with private insurance (8.7 percent). Among adults aged 65 and over with Medicare only (24.9 percent) ask their doctor for a lower-cost alternative compared to those with private insurance (20.1 percent) and Medicare and Medicaid (14.7 percent). In both age groups, those who were poor or near poor were twice as likely as those not poor to not take a prescribed medication.

"This study provides a baseline to track strategies used by adults to reduce their prescription drug costs on a national level for all adults and for subgroups defined by insurance status and poverty level. This report also contributes to the body of literature on the potential burden of prescription drug costs among vulnerable populations including the uninsured and those who are poor," the authors write.

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