Skipping Prescriptions Raises the Price of Healthcare

 In Medication Monitoring

Research shows that between 50 and 75 percent of Americans do not follow their doctors’ instructions for their medication. Now, a new survey of pharmacists shows that 62 percent believe the reason to be the high cost of the medicines. The pharmacists surveyed estimated that nearly one-third of their customers decide not to fill a prescription due to price.

But not taking medicines as prescribed, or non-adherence, can increase the probability of many complications, such as the preventable progression of a disease and increased hospital, doctor and emergency room visits. Studies show that more than 1 in 5 prescriptions are never filled and that adherence is lowest in patients with chronic illnesses. At least 125,000 Americans die annually due to poor medication adherence, and non-adherence results in one- to two-thirds of the medication-related hospital admissions in the United States. These avoidable complications are likely significantly increasing healthcare costs overall.

Many researchers have studied the relationship between non-adherence and poor patient outcomes. However, few high-quality studies have looked at how non-adherence affects costs, so all figures must be taken as estimates. The cost of non-adherence is usually approximated by comparing the health care costs of populations of patients who are adherent with the costs of populations of patients who are not. Using this method, between $100 and $300 billion could be saved annually, representing 3% to 10% of total U.S. healthcare costs.

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