It may seem surprising in the wealthiest country in the history of the world. In America today many individuals who suffer from heart disease report that they are not taking the prescribed medications over worries about the cost of them. This phenomenon is dangerous and can actually lead to higher costs over time for these poor heart attack victims.
Shocking Statistic On People Who Avoid Medication Over Cost
New research has shown that the numbers are staggering. Fully one out of eight Americans who have suffered from a heart attack or other related cardiovascular problems do not take the medications that the doctors prescribe. The recent study revealed findings that patients were saving money on these prescription drugs through delaying their refills, skipping doses, or taking a smaller amount than they were prescribed.
Unfortunately this can be fatal. Cost rationing of critical medications has the potential to massively boost an individual’s chances of suffering from another stroke, heart attack, or similar cardiovascular episode. The big pharma companies and their high drug pricing are to blame for the costs of these expensive yet desperately needed medications.
Study Reveals Too Many People Skipping Their Heart Medications
Looking more closely into the study led by researchers from Yale University, a broad spectrum of individuals are skipping their medications. The researchers considered data from U.S. adults during the years of 2013 to 2017. Information utilized in the study came from a trusted source of the National Health Interview Survey. The study appeared in the American Heart Association November 25th edition of their journal Circulation.
This resulted in a broad pool to study. Researchers honed in on the 14,279 individuals who had suffered either coronary heart disease, strokes, heart attack, or chest pain related to the heart. Out of this significant group of people, one in eight individuals stated that they had not correctly taken their prescribed medications thanks to concerns over cost.
Researchers were able to conclude that an estimated 2.2 million patients every year who are suffering from heart disease in the U.S. either cut back or completely skip on their critical prescription medications in order to save money. In a somewhat surprising revelation, the refusal to properly take the medications over cost came in at three times greater for people who were under the age of 65. The patients over 65 had Medicare coverage that helped to explain the phenomenon.
For those who were less than 65 years old, several groups showed a greater tendency not to take the prescribed medications correctly over the cost. The three most affected groups were individuals with a lower income, women, and people who did not have health insurance.
The research showed that more than 25 percent of people had requested lower priced medication. Another four percent claimed to be taking an alternative treatment that was not prescribed for their condition. Those individuals who would not take the prescribed medications properly over cost had greater odds of utilizing two different cost savings strategies.
Prescribed Medications Are Critical After A Heart Attack
These results are frightening for the people concerned. Those individuals who have suffered from strokes, heart attacks, or related cardiovascular events need to take a few pills per day in order to be caught up with their prescribed medications. One study back in 2006 revealed that stroke survivors have to consume an average of 11 individual medications. This could mean anywhere from three to 27 pills per day.
This exhausting medication lineup can help individuals to remain healthy for a longer period. It is especially critical because there is a high risk for people who have suffered from one episode to experience a second one. According to Dr. Deborah Levine, MPH, a researcher at the University of Michigan and general internist, as many as 80 percent and higher of second heart related episodes may be prevented through controlling diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure, as well as by taking a strong blood thinner. It explains how a recovering individual can have to take so many different medications and why they can find them difficult to afford at today’s extreme health care prices.
Does Insurance Help With Costs?
Observers would expect health insurance to make medications affordable, but this is not always the case. Dr. Levine pointed out that their 2018 study and similar ones have uncovered the fact that insurance is only part of the solution. It helps to make medications more affordable and lower their personal costs, but it does not solve the problem. She noted that patients who have insurance also experience difficulty in affording their necessary medications.
The problem comes down to higher out of pocket costs for medications. Co-payments, insurance deductibles, and inpatients visit prices are also soaring. Pharmaceutical companies could at least address the issue of higher costs for the medications, but they have not shown any concerted serious efforts so far.
Younger Adults Are More Likely to Skip Their Medications
Older adults suffer from greater out of pocket costs for these medicines. This results from their higher numbers of chronic conditions they must address. Yet this newer study showed that they take their medications more correctly than younger adults do.
The reason is that many of the younger adults do not have insurance. Every older adult qualifies to receive Medicare. The Kaiser Family Foundation pointed out in 2017 that 27.4 percent of all non-elderly Americans did not have insurance. Because of this, younger Americans have a greater risk of developing a second instance of cardiovascular disease.
Drug Price Reform Desperately Needed But Unlikely
Other studies have revealed that patients who receive proper medications at lower cost or for free will take them more faithfully. It would amount to lower healthcare costs for America in the future. Yet for medications to be offered at European level prices or for free, massive changes will be needed in the pricing policies of the big pharmaceutical companies. Unfortunately, it does not appear that any across the board drug pricing reform will happen anytime soon.
Tragically, avoiding and rationing medication looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. There is an irony in trying to save money by skipping the medications. Medication avoidance often costs the patient more money in the future as they end up back at the hospital or frequently in the doctor’s office.