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More than one-third of Americans haven’t filled a prescription due to cost: survey

Findings highlight the financial barriers many Americans face when seeking health care.
Pills falling out of bottle.

Story at a glance

  • Women and those with family incomes less than $50,000 per year were more likely to report not filling a prescription due to cost.

  • Similar proportions of Democrats and Republicans said the same.

  • Results are based on a poll completed by 1,500 U.S. adults.

More than one-third of Americans say cost has prevented them from filling a prescription. 

That’s according to a poll completed by 1,500 U.S. adults in March 2023. Of these, 37 percent said they’ve not filled a prescription due to cost. Another 10 percent preferred not to answer the query. 

Both women and individuals with an annual family income less than $50,000 were more likely to say they’ve skipped filling prescriptions due to cost, at 43 percent and 44 percent, respectively.

However, similar shares of Democrats and Republicans said they’ve had this experience, poll results show. 

The United States is notorious for its high prescription drug costs. But for Americans with diabetes, this month brought some good news for insulin affordability. 

Eli Lilly, one of the country’s largest pharmaceutical companies, announced it would cap the price of insulin at $35 per month, a move that was welcomed by lawmakers and activists alike.

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In the wake of the announcement, democratic lawmakers, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation that would cap insulin princes at $20 per vial.

Over 8 million Americans currently use insulin to manage their diabetes, while the average cost of the drug nearly tripled from 2002 to 2013, according to the American Diabetes Association. 

More than half of poll respondents said they know someone who uses insulin. 

The vast majority of respondents said they support government limits on how much companies can charge for insulin, with just 16 percent somewhat or strongly opposing this position. 

Findings were similar for other drugs. Nearly three-quarters of respondents somewhat or strongly support government limits on the cost of cancer drugs, while 72 percent said the same about blood thinners and 69 percent about anti-depressants. 

Regardless of their personal struggles to afford medication, most Americans also support government negotiating prices with insurance companies and Medicare negotiating its drug costs.

The margin of error for the Economist/YouGov poll was approximately 3 percent.

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