Poll found roughly half didn't, but 67 percent who did received assistance from their doctor

June 30, 2017

FRIDAY, June 30, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Many older Americans who have difficulty paying for their medications don't seek help in finding cheaper options, a new poll indicates.

"We already know that cost can keep patients from taking the drugs they need to maintain health or prevent complications, but these new data suggest that many older adults aren't talking to their doctors or pharmacists about cost and less-expensive alternatives as often as they could," said poll director Dr. Preeti Malani. She is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

"This represents an opportunity for patients, clinicians -- as well as health systems, insurers and policymakers," Malani added in a university news release.

The national poll of more than 2,100 adults aged 50 to 80 found that 27 percent said their prescription drug costs were a financial burden.

About 16 percent had six or more prescriptions and saw more than one doctor. These patients were the most likely to say they struggled with drug costs, the poll found.

Among the respondents who said their medication costs were a burden, 49 percent had not talked to their doctors about the issue. But doing so was effective, because 67 percent of those who talked to their doctor received a recommendation for a less expensive drug, as did 37 percent of those who talked to their pharmacists.

"Based on these findings, and other evidence, we encourage patients to speak up during their clinic visits, and when they're at the pharmacy, and ask about ways to reduce the cost of their prescriptions," Malani said.

"But equally, we see a need for health professionals to find ways to more routinely engage with patients about cost -- especially through formal medication reviews such as the one that Medicare will cover," she added.

More information

For more on drug pricing, visit the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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