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Latest news and updates about the Medicare and pharmacy industries.

March 6: Americans Skip Medications Because of High Cost

Posted on in Industry Updates by Amplicare Team

Plus, the latest pharmacy and healthcare news to know this week.

The Story

Many Americans are skipping medications because of high costs. In a new poll of 1,000 people, 44% said they did not buy at least one medically necessary prescription in the past year because of cost. 

Why It Matters

According to CNBC, this PawnGuru poll provides the highest estimates of medication non-adherence so far. By comparison, a Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 29% of Americans failed to take their medications because of cost — 19% said they didn’t fill the prescription at all while 12% said they cut pills in half or skipped a dose. This latest survey also found that 20% of people spend more than $100 a month in out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions and 40% have had insurers decline to cover prescriptions at least once in the past year.

With high drug prices an ongoing issue in the U.S., medication non-adherence has ballooned into a $300 billion problem. Each year, non-adherence contributes to 125,000 deaths and between 33% and 69% of medication-related hospital deaths, according to one study. 

For pharmacies, non-adherence is a two-fold issue, affecting both patients and the business. Adherence levels for some chronic medications is one of the performance metrics some pharmacies are measured against, which in turn affects DIR fees. While the drug pricing debate continues, there are a few ways pharmacies are helping patients facing high costs for their prescriptions. Pharmacies serving Medicare-eligible populations can help patients ensure they are on the most affordable plan for their medications by conducting plan comparisons and checking formularies. Additionally, some pharmacists discuss lower cost alternatives with patients or offer extra help in the form of no-cost delivery services.  

Other important healthcare news to know:

1. Patients trade personal data for prescription coupon cards. Yahoo! News.

2. Colorado announces its first two coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of affected U.S. states to 20. Newsweek.

3. New Mexico has capped monthly insulin copays at $25, making it the third state to introduce a copay cap. PR Newswire.

4. Prescriptions for extended-release drugs cost $14 billion more than short-acting medications, says new study. Reuters.

5. Four pharmacy groups filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case on PBM regulation. Pharmacist.com.

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