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Study More People Struggle With Prescription Costs

January 22, 2009
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Nearly 14 percent of nonelderly Americans went without a prescription drug in 2007 because of cost concerns, up from 10.3 percent in 2003, according to a national study released by the Center for Studying Health System Change.

The study, “More Nonelderly Americans Face Problems Affording Prescription Drugs,” pointed to rising prescription drug costs and less-generous drug coverage as the main reasons that children and working-age Americans are going without a prescribed medication. The center is a nonpartisan health policy research organization.

“The number of Americans who cannot afford prescription medications is likely to grow as the economy continues to decline and the ranks of the uninsured grow,” said Laurie Felland, a senior health researcher at the center and study co-author.

Uninsured, working-age Americans experienced the biggest jump in unmet prescription drug needs between 2003 and 2007, with the proportion rising from 26 percent to almost 35 percent. In addition, a growing proportion of working-age Americans with employer-sponsored insurance are going without prescription medications, the study found.

The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Findings were drawn from the Center for Studying Health System Change’s 2007 Health Tracking Household Survey, a nationally representative survey containing information on 10,400 working-age adults and 2,600 children. The survey had a 43 percent response rate.

(For more, read "Report: Health Care Spending Growth Rate Slowed in 2007" and "Paying for a Doctor's Visit in the Age of Medical Consumerism.")

Filed by Rebecca Vesely of Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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