It’s not just the elderly who can’t afford prescription drugs


Those who would minimize the crisis that is the U.S. healthcare system would have you believe, among other things, that the problem of high-priced prescription drugs mostly affects the elderly — who supposedly have gotten the relief they need from Medicare Part D and a multitude of state programs.

This is simply not the case.

The Los Angeles Times reports on a pharmacy benefit manager’s study that states:

…nearly 70 percent of adults aged 25-34 claim the economic downturn of the last 12 months has made it somewhat or significantly more difficult to pay for health care expenses … Overall, three out of four people are concerned about the cost of health care…

The Times speculates as to the reasons for increasing concern among young adults:

A couple of things might be going on with young adults. First, problems like diabetes and heart disease are hitting younger people these days, connected to the growing rates of overweight and obesity among younger Americans, so more of them are taking prescription drugs than in the past. And second, young people are hit with economic hard times when they may still be paying off college loans and beginning to set up independent lives with their own rent, mortgages or car payments.

Older prescription drug users are more savvy about asking their physicians for cheaper, generic versions of drugs, and to use mail-order pharmacies to save money, according to the survey.

So it seems that everyone is worried, and youth itself doesn’t necessarily let people off the hook.

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Amen to that. Many members are seniors, for the reasons the Times post states — they are savvier consumers. They have had to search for ways to cope with the issue of skyrocketing prices for years, because a sizable percentage of seniors take five or more different prescription drugs per day.

Young people are much more likely to take only one or two prescription medications regularly. But prices are now so high that even that can bust a budget, especially if one of those drugs has been dropped from an insurer’s co-pay list.

To cite an example I gave earlier this year:

I have a friend on an oral chemotherapy drug who, despite being fully insured through her employer, was still forced to pay thousands of dollars for her medication. Needless to say, this came as a shock to her. It’s hard enough to go through chemo without having to pay thousands of dollars for a few bottles of pills.

Insurers keep moving the goalposts on the definition of “being covered” in this country. Standards of coverage pale in comparison to what they were 20 or even 10 years ago. And yet the premiums continue to increase far more rapidly than the inflation rate.

About Cary Byrd

eDrugSearch founder, Cary Byrd, has been called an “e-health innovator” by MarketIntellNow, interviewed by top pharmaceutical industry journalists, invited to Matthew Holt’s Health 2.0 Conference and a Consumer Report's health summit, and highlighted on numerous health blogs. - Search. Compare. Save.

0 thoughts on “It’s not just the elderly who can’t afford prescription drugs

  • Great post on the cost of healthcare and meds for the “not so old”. Here is another example of how the downturn in the economy is affecting the younger set.

    One of my wife’s friends, an artist, recently married another friend who worked for, let’s say an investment firm that no longer exists. They are both under 30, and now do not have health insurance. I know she takes an allergy medication and he suffers from hypertension. He is still paying off his MBA loan, she is getting her MFA, they recently moved into a new apartment in NYC, and now they have no revenue stream. I do not think paying for their scripts will be high on their list of priority expenses.

    And this is happening everyday to 1000s who are loosing their insurance or are not covered completely like your friend.

    We need less expensive meds! Keep up the good work.


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