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An Update on Americans' Access to Prescription Drugs

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Publication Date: May 2005

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Marie C. Reed

Series: Issue Brief No. 95

Topic: Health (Pharmaceutical services)

Type: Brief


More Americans—especially those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and depression—are going without prescription drugs because of cost concerns, according to a new national study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). In 2003, more than 14 million American adults with chronic conditions—over half of whom were low income—could not afford all of their prescriptions. Between 2001 and 2003, the proportion of privately insured, working-age people with chronic conditions who reported not filling at least one prescription because of cost concerns increased from 12.7 percent to 15.2 percent. Likewise, the proportion of elderly, chronically ill Medicare beneficiaries without supplemental private insurance with problems affording prescription drugs rose from 12.4 percent to 16.4 percent between 2001 and 2003. At the same time, significant disparities in prescription drug access persisted between black and white Americans with chronic conditions, with blacks about twice as likely to report problems affording prescriptions.