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Over half of patients are not taking a drug due to cost, survey shows

Millennials in particular want a discussion with their provider and will choose their physician, based on the ability to discuss drug costs.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Patients, and in particular millennials, want to talk about the price of a prescription with their provider to avoid sticker shock, according to a Surescripts' Prescription Price Transparency and the Patient Experience survey.

Over half of patients had not taken a medication because of cost, and nearly three in 10 hadn't taken medication because of the wait time, the survey showed.

Of those who reported that they didn't take medication because it was too expensive, 94% said they would have been willing to take a lower-cost alternative if their doctor or nurse had suggested one.

Sixty-one percent of millennials reported skipping a medication due to the price tag, while 38% said they did so because it took too long to fill.

A majority (56%) of patients said they talk about medication cost with their doctor or nurse at least some of the time, but 63% of these conversations are initiated by the patient. Sixty-eight percent of millennial patients said they're already discussing their out-of-pocket cost with their doctor.

Nearly 70% of millennials, 51% of middle-aged patients and 32% of Medicare patients said the ability to talk with their provider about prescription cost has a moderate or significant impact on which doctor they choose.


Drug prices can result in non-adherence, leading to an increase in provider and ER visits.

Legislators have been looking at ways to lower the cost of prescription drugs and to provide price transparency.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule that pharmaceutical companies be required to post the prices of their drugs in television ads. Several drug makers sued.


Electronic health records vendors and pharmacy benefit managers have developed tools that give providers patient-specific, benefits-based cost information at the point of care, according to Surescripts, a technology company that promotes a real-time prescription benefit on cost and coverage information.

Some blame PBMs for adding to the high cost of drugs as being the middlemen who get rebates from drug makers and pass these along to insurers.

America's Health Insurance Plans has said it's the drug makers alone that set the prices.

Surescripts' 15-minute online survey was administered by Engine Group in November 2019 to a nationally representative sample of 1,001 consumers aged 23-plus who had visited a doctor and received a prescription within the last three months.


Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton said, "With access and affordability driving the nationwide healthcare agenda in 2020, it is critical that providers know the cost of a patient's prescription based on their benefits plan, as well as the price of therapeutic alternatives, at the time they're writing the prescription."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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