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Rx for Affordability: Helping Patients Cope with Medication Costs

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Publication Date: November 2005

Publisher(s): California HealthCare Foundation

Author(s): John D. Piette

Topic: Health (Health services for the chronically ill)

Type: Report


The financial burden from out-of-pocket drug costs can lead patients with chronic illnesses to forgo prescribed medications and ultimately affect their health. Studies indicate that the primary reason patients don't tell doctors about such problems is that they are not asked. In a health care environment increasingly influenced by financial considerations over best practices, many physicians may be overlooking a key consideration when prescribing drugs: Can the patient afford the medication? This report explores how drug costs are affecting medication adherence and health outcomes and describes a framework for developing solutions to help patients cope with the problem. Not all patients respond to prescription cost pressures in the same way. Some, for example, may cut back on other essentials such as food or utilities. The challenge for clinicians and health systems is to understand each patient's situation and tailor solutions that meet an individual's needs. Even when burdensome drug costs prove unavoidable, care providers may be able to help patients stick with their regimens by ensuring patients understand the benefits of the treatments and the potential consequences of going without.