Survey: 4-in-10 seniors concerned over Rx cost; half of those delay refills or skip doses to make do

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — A Walgreens survey released Tuesday found that 37% of Medicare Part D beneficiaries have daily concerns about their prescription drug costs, and 1-in-5 say they’ve had to make sacrifices, such as delaying filling a prescription or skipping doses, to help manage medication costs.

That’s almost 11.7 million seniors. 

“It’s important for everyone to be able to afford the prescriptions they need, and with recent changes to Medicare and other programs under healthcare reform, it’s critical for beneficiaries to fully understand their options and ways to make their healthcare dollars go further,” stated Dan Luce, director of pharmacy affairs, Walgreens. “If cost is a contributor to patients not adhering to medication therapies, as the survey findings show, it’s always a concern because nonadherence can be a significant and costly barrier in treating illness. This underscores the need to educate Part D beneficiaries about how they can save on prescription and other healthcare costs.”

Despite most beneficiaries (77%) surveyed saying they have a clear understanding of their plan benefits, only half realize that co-pays for Part D prescriptions can vary by pharmacy; for instance, some plans feature preferred pharmacy networks that offer lower co-pays. Also, nearly 30% don’t know that they can switch pharmacies at any time, believing falsely that it can only be done during Medicare’s Annual Election Period (open enrollment). And nearly 60% said if they could change one thing about their Part D plan, it would be lower costs and co-pays.

The survey examined the behaviors and understanding of seniors currently enrolled in Medicare Part D, and is part of Walgreens You’re Worth Savings initiative, which aims to educate Medicare beneficiaries about cost saving opportunities and how to get the most from their prescription drug plan. 

The Medicare Part D beneficiaries surveyed take an average of eight prescriptions each week and spend an average of $58 per month on their co-pays, with nearly 2-in-10 (17%) paying more than $100. More than half of the seniors surveyed say they would switch pharmacies if it meant savings on prescription drug costs.

The survey also found:

  • Most seniors are trying to lower prescription costs — 72% have switched to generic medications and 44% are filling more 90-day prescriptions in an effort to save;
  • Only 15% of those surveyed were able to correctly identify the major components of national Part D prescription plans; and
  • Only hospital/emergency room costs (40%) and caregiver/assisted living expenses (38%) are a greater concern for respondents than prescription drug costs (37%).

The survey was designed and conducted by KRC Research on behalf of Walgreens. Interviews were conducted by telephone between April 8 and April 15, 2013. In all, 1,000 U.S. Medicare Part D beneficiaries, age 65 and older, were interviewed. The data were weighted by demographics such as age, sex, geographic region, and race to ensure reliable and accurate representation of Medicare Part D beneficiaries.

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Leave a Reply

Jun-10-2013 01:48 pm

And it's not all about the co-pays. Some of it is about the deadly side effects of the new drugs on the market. People are afraid to take them. I have had to tell the druggist at times that we didn't want the medication because the co-pay was $100s or better and not covered. When our doctor writes prescriptions we let him know that we don't want any new drugs on the market generic or otherwise. The old drugs were more efficient and didn't kill you. When I see the drug pushers in the doctor's office leaving them all those new samples we don't want any of them. We refuse to be used as Guinea-pigs for the drug companies. There was a time they were giving my hubby the newer drugs and every time he has had a reaction. Not anymore we are sticking to the old standard ones and he hasn't had anymore bad side effects. And another thing, where we live we have pulled all our medications from Walgreens. You can call to talk to the pharmacist and they don't answer the phone and it would go back to the recording so you would have to start over. They had two driveways to drop off and pick up and one broke down and they are not going to fix it. They are so short handed you sit by the window or stand in line in the store for ever waiting to get waited on. I have had enough and have transferred our pills to another company, problem solved.

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Jun-03-2013 06:40 am

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A.P says:
May-09-2013 11:23 am

This all a part of our National SHAME. We let people who worked hard all of their lives to build this country, go without in their old age so some CEO can rake in millions or billions. Where are the Corporaritsts with consciences?

HealthPrize says:
May-08-2013 02:37 pm

Very interesting topic overall.While this survey found that cost was the cause of low adherence, HealthPrize recently conducted a survey that looked into all of the reasons that people gave for not adhereing to medication and found it to be a psychological issue as well. Indeed, many simply do not WANT to take their medication because of what it implies. To find our more, please read my blog:



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