Poll: 28% Of Americans Who Take Prescription Meds Resort To Risky Behavior To Save Money

With the economy and job market still stuck in “blargh,” more people are making potentially dangerous decisions about their health care, all in the name of stretching their dollar just a little bit farther.

Our surveying siblings at Consumer Reports have just released the results of their annual prescription drug poll and found that 48% of Americans currently taking prescription medicines answered that they had cut health-care costs by, among other things, putting off doctor’s visits or medical procedures, declining tests, or ordering cheaper drugs from outside of the U.S. Even more alarming, this is up 9% from just one year earlier.

Additionally, 28% of people taking prescription meds have gone even further to save money, engaging in potentially dangerous behavior like not filling a prescription (16%), taking an expired medication (13%), or skipping a scheduled dosage without asking a doctor or pharmacist (12%).

Consumer Reports believes that doctors should be more proactive in thinking about the impact of medical care on their patients’ finances. For example, the survey found that not all doctors are routinely prescribing generics, which can lead to a huge difference in cost to the patient.

“Doctors need to be stewards of their patients’ resource concerns,” says John Santa, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. “When you walk into your doctor’s office, you are a patient, first and foremost, but you are also a consumer, and your doctor should be tuned into this, especially during these tough times.”

Other survey highlights:
*While generics account for the majority of prescriptions among those taking drugs regularly, 39 percent of Americans reported a concern or misconception about generics.

*Despite the costly burden of prescription drugs, very few doctors raise the issue of cost during their meetings with patients. Only 5% of patients found out the cost of a prescription drug during a doctor visit, while nearly two-thirds (64%) first learned about cost when picking up their medicine at the pharmacy.

*88% of Americans who take a prescription drug harbor some misgivings about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on the prescribing habits of their doctors. Nearly three-quarters (72%) agreed completely or somewhat that pharmaceutical companies have too much influence on the drugs that doctors prescribe. Just over half (52%) agreed that doctors are too eager to prescribe a drug rather than consider alternate methods of managing a condition. And 49 % agreed that the drugs that doctors prescribe are influenced by gifts from pharmaceutical companies.

For the full survey results, go to ConsumerReports.org/health.