More than half of patients don’t take required prescriptions due to high cost, survey finds

February 20, 2020
Keith A. Reynolds

Vast majority of respondents said they’d take a cheaper alternative if their physician had suggested one.

More than half of patients cite the high cost of their medication as a reason for not taking it, according to a Surescripts’ Prescription Price Transparency and the Patient Experience survey.

Of the 53 percent of respondents who admitted to not taking their prescriptions due to high prices, 94 percent say they would have been willing to take a lower-costing alternative medication if their physician or nurse had suggested one, the survey says.

Overall, 56 percent of respondents say they discuss prescription prices with their physicians. Millennials were the most likely to have these conversations, followed by patients with more than one chronic condition.

These concerns about price may be a bit one-sided though, as 63 percent of respondents said they had to initiate conversations about cost, while only 23 percent say those conversations are started by their doctor or nurse, the survey says.

Doctors may want to take note, as 41 percent of respondents say they’ve referred other patients to their doctor due to their experience having conversations about prescription prices and lower-cost alternatives. A further 61 percent said they would be willing to spend extra time, effort, or money to have these conversations, the survey says.

Cost isn’t the only thing on patients’ minds when they are not taking their prescriptions; a further 29 percent say that the time it takes to fill the prescription kept them from taking it.

“A patient’s decision about whether or not to take a prescribed medication shouldn’t come down to how much it will cost and how long it will take to get,” Tom Skelton, CEO of Surescripts, said in a news release distributed with the survey results. “With access and affordability driving the nationwide healthcare agenda in 2020, it is critical that providers know the cost of a patient’s prescription based on their benefits plan, as well as the price of therapeutic alternatives, at the time they’re writing the prescription.”

The millennial generation seems to be the most sensitive to prescription price transparency, as 70 percent of millennial respondents say the ability to talk about costs with their doctor has a moderate to significant impact on which physician they choose. Only 51 percent of middle-age respondents and 32 percent of Medicare-aged respondents agreed, according to the survey.

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