Release date 05/16/2017
YONKERS, NY — A new survey from Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs shows that twenty-five percent of Americans who regularly take a prescription drug say they now pay more out of pocket than they did 12 months ago for at least one of those medications. In some cases, the price increases are substantial. Americans were left to call their insurance companies, their doctors or ask pharmacists to help with lowering their prices. Some even went online to find discount coupons.
CR’s survey shows that some of the price increases are substantial. Twenty-four percent of regular prescription takers who said they payed more out-of-pocket shelled out $50 or more for a single prescription this year than they did for the same prescription a year ago. Nearly half of regular prescription takers who now pay more out of pocket (47%) said that, year over year, they paid an additional $20 or more for a drug they regularly take. Fifteen percent paid $100 more this year for one of their scripts than they did for the same one in 2016.
Consumers are seeing significant out-of-pocket cost increases across the board – from generics to treat common conditions to newer drug therapies.
“Those are big, burdensome increases for nearly 28 million consumers with very little indication that the problem of rising costs will be solved anytime soon,” said Lisa Gill, deputy editor of Consumer Reports’ prescription drug program, Best Buy Drugs. “Consumers are seeing significant out-of-pocket cost increases across the board – from generics to treat common conditions to newer drug therapies.”
Consumer Reports’ prescription drug program, Best Buy Drugs, evaluates prescription drugs based on a scientific review of safety, efficacy, and cost. In its newly updated guide, Best Drugs for Less, CR gives extensive savings advice to help consumers purchase their needed medications at prices they can afford. The free guide is available in English and Spanish online at CRBestDrugsforLess.org.
The survey results are part of a nationally representative phone survey of nearly 1,000 adults who regularly take at least one prescription medicine by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Polling took place February 9th -19th. More details about the survey are available online at CR.org.
The vast majority (74%) of regular users of prescription meds who pay more now say they did not receive any notification in advance that their costs might go up. While insurance companies can drop coverage of a drug or change the level of coverage, they are required to give consumers advance notice. People with Medicare Part D coverage, for example, must receive 60-days notice of any coverage changes.
Those are changes that can have a big impact on consumers: If your drug gets moved from a lower, cheaper “tier” of coverage, where you may only pay a $10 or $15 copay, to a higher, more expensive tier, where you may have to pay $40, $50, you could be on the hook for big cost increases over time. “Those changes can be huge for consumers, resulting in hundreds of dollars extra per year just for a single medication,” said Gill.
Consumer Reports asked regular prescription medication users, “which if any of the following did you do when you found out that your out-of-pocket cost increased?” Here’s how Americans responded:
Perhaps most concerning is that the CR survey found that almost a quarter (24%) of regular prescription medication users said they are “not at all confident” that they will have access to affordable medicine in the future.
CR Best Drugs for Less recommends nine ways to save big on your medications:
Meanwhile, to help lower consumers’ cost burden overall, Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, is supporting numerous pro-consumer bills to make prescription drugs more affordable.