10 Biggest Problems People Have with Their Prescription Meds

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The percentage of Americans without health insurance has steadily declined since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The act provides coverage for prescription drugs, with limitations – but even for those with prescription coverage, through the ACA or other insurance, getting the drugs they need can often be problematic. (These are the 21 states where the most people don’t have health insurance.)

To identify the biggest problems people have with their prescription medicines in America, 24/7 Tempo reviewed “Barriers to Health Care Access in the Patient Experience,” a report released in October 2021 by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a pharmaceutical industry trade group. The report is based on PhRMA’s Patient Experience Survey, which was given to 3,624 patients who take prescription medicines between Nov. 30 and Dec. 18, 2021.  

Nearly half of all Americans face challenges in getting their prescriptions, chiefly due to insurer-imposed restrictions. One barrier reported by patients is utilization management, which requires prior authorization from a healthcare professional before a dosage is prescribed. Another is step therapy, a process by which a patient must “fail” on the insurer-preferred drug before one recommended by the doctor is given. Minority groups face the hardest time in getting the medications they need.

The delays and bureaucratic wrangling caused by waiting for approval may lead patients to fall off their medication regimen, which may result in negative health outcomes. In the PhRMA report, 82% of respondents reported not taking their medication multiple times due to utilization management hurdles. That’s reflected in the fact a third of the survey respondents said they skipped one or more dosages. And 48% of all those reporting one or more episodes of non-adherence say their health suffered as a result. (These are the most common reasons people avoid seeing a doctor.)

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