To Cut Costs, a Third of US Uninsured Don’t Take Their Drugs as Prescribed
Health Care

To Cut Costs, a Third of US Uninsured Don’t Take Their Drugs as Prescribed


More than one in nine Americans — and more than a third of those without insurance — did not take their medications as prescribed in 2017 in an effort to lower their costs, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The report further highlights how Americans are struggling to afford their prescription drugs.

“Cost-saving strategies to reduce prescription drug costs may have implications for health status and have been associated with increased emergency room use and hospitalizations compared with adults who follow recommended pharmacotherapy,” the new report says.

More from the report:

  • Nearly 60 percent of adults aged 18 to 64 reported being prescribed medication over the past 12 months, as of 2017.

  • About one in five of those people asked their doctor for a lower-priced prescription, down from nearly 26 percent in 2013. Women were more likely than men to ask for a lower-cost medication (22 percent vs. 16.4 percent). Uninsured adults were about twice as likely to ask for a lower-priced prescription (nearly 40 percent, compared to 18 percent among those with private insurance and about 16 percent among those on Medicaid).

  • More than 11 percent of adults did not take their medication as prescribed to try to reduce their costs, with women more likely than men to do so (12.7 percent vs. 9.7 percent). Among the uninsured, 33.6 percent said they did not take their medicine as prescribed in an attempt to cut costs. Among those with private insurance, that figure was far lower, 8.4 percent.

  • More than 5 percent of adults with prescriptions used alternative therapies to try to bring down their drug costs. The uninsured were far more likely to try such therapies, with about 14 percent reporting they had done so.