Fewer Americans reporting financial barriers to health care

We haven’t had much good news involving American access to affordable medicine lately. Generic drug prices have been spiking, specialty med prices are out of control and the right to import prescription drugs remains in jeopardy. That’s why we were pleasantly surprised by the findings of a new Commonwealth Fund report, which seems to indicate that the situation may be starting to improve.

The Commonwealth Fund’s biennial survey measures the rate at which Americans are insured as well as their reported health care affordability and barriers to access. In the 2014 survey, for the first time since 2001, there was a significant decline in the number of people reporting cost-related access issues and financial problems related to medical expenses.

At RxRights, we regularly report a statistic from the previous Commonwealth Fund report: 50 million Americans aged 19-64 didn’t fill a prescription due to cost in 2012. In the new report, we are pleased to see that the number of people not filling their scripts in 2014 fell to 35 million.

It’s been a long while since we’ve seen any progress on this front. But while this steep decline is largely positive, the numbers are still concerning. A big proportion of the population—19 percent of adults aged 19-64—didn’t get their needed medicine because they couldn’t afford it. In addition, this measurement doesn’t take into account adults over age 64, folks on fixed incomes who are taking the most meds. We’d like to see a study that reports on how many older adults are going without meds due to cost.

Why are we seeing this reversal? No matter your opinion on the contentious Affordable Care Act, the fact is that it increased the number of insured, particularly among those with lower incomes. Thus, financial barriers to general health care are starting to recede.

These numbers are heartening and we hope this is the beginning of a downward trend. Being insured and having access to care is a good start. But as we know, the cost of medicine continues to rise. And unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act will not do much to control the cost of medicine.

In the meantime, those who continue to struggle to afford their medication may consider importation from legitimate international online pharmacies or visit our resources page.

3 Comments On “Fewer Americans reporting financial barriers to health care”

  1. Just another taxpayer

    This is BS. I can’t afford insurnace and know a lot of people who can’t because of Obamacare. It jacked up the premiums on what was once reasonable “catastrophic insurance.” Now I have a load of patients on employer sponsored insurance that does them no to little good because their deductibles match what the catastrophic deductibles used to be, but they’re still paying an arm and leg for their premiums.
    For many people clamining they can’t afford their medications. I am sure some people truly can’t, especially certain medications. But I have more patients who claim they can’t afford their medication but really it’s a matter of priority. From buying street drugs to new clothes, new cars, vacations or supporting deadbeat entitled adult children-many of them misspend their money.

  2. I have a son who is 42 years old and has a temporary job. He just got health insurance and it is costing him $330.00 per month and has no deductible but he has to pay 35% of all medical expenses. That is what I was paying at age 63, 3 years ago with a $6000.00 deductible. When Obama said that nobody could live on 15,000.00 per year he didn’t think of almost everyone on social security and most don’t get that much. I know they say it is not a retirement program, but what it is is a program put forth by the united states government that the senate and congress exempted themselves from and made it mandatory for the rest of the country. You could not withdraw from it unless you were a teacher or worked for the railroad. those were exempted because they had a retirement program. Meaning if you were in a select group with much voting power you had a retirement but the rest would have to pay in a total of 15.3% of everything they made but would not be able to live on it. The fact that it is bankrupt is a whole other story. Back to the insurance, my 89 year old mother was in for three days lately and what they have to call it is observation and believe me they didn’t even do that. The bill was $28,500.00, 35% of that is $9975.00, which well exceeds he $6,000 deductible I had. I don’t really think they have named this program correctly because affordable depends on how much you can afford and if you are not married with children there is no assistance from obamacare.

  3. I am not really sure about what you are trying to say. Is it that the premiums and drugs are too high, which I agree with? or is it that people spend money on clothes and cars and should use it for medical expenses?

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