Those without drug coverage also shelled out more per month for their prescription drugs than those with insurance: $91 a month for those without, on average, vs. $54 a month for those with coverage.
Despite the difficulties consumers have paying for medical and medication bills, many consumers are uncomfortable consulting the two professionals who are in the best position to help cut costs—doctors and pharmacists. High numbers of all survey respondents reported being uncomfortable talking to their pharmacist (68 percent) or their doctor (47 percent) about their financial difficulties.
“An important part of a physician’s professional obligations includes assistance navigating stressful financial times—especially when part of the stress is affording the health care a physician orders or provides,” says John Santa, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. “It is especially concerning that half of Americans are uncomfortable sharing these stresses with their doctor. For most physicians, their goal is to take care of the whole patient, not just the portion carrying their wallet.”
Besides not talking about the affordability of medications, most problematic may be that four out of 10 respondents said their doctor sometimes or never recommends generic medications over brand-name drugs, though generic drugs can provide a huge savings, sometimes priced as much as 95 percent less than brand-name medication. And considering that the average person who currently takes any medication takes about four drugs—and 14 percent of people take seven or more—the extra cost of brand-name medicines can add up.
And too, almost no one found out the cost of their medication while at the doctor’s office, although about one in three people said they asked their pharmacist or doctor about getting a less-expensive medication or one covered by their insurance.