More patients skipping care to save money
NEW YORK - More Americans ignored their doctor’s advice and skipped prescription drugs or medical procedures to save money in 2011 than a year earlier, a Consumer Reports survey shows.
Almost half of the 1,226 consumers taking at least one medication said they didn’t fill prescriptions, took less medicine than a prescribed dose, or failed to undergo a medical test advised by their physician, according to the survey released yesterday. That’s 9 percentage points higher than the 39 percent reported in 2010.
One in six American households - and one in four with incomes less than $50,000 - told Yonkers, N.Y.-based Consumer Reports that they felt stress over how much they must spend on medical care.
The pressure is prompting consumers to pursue potentially dangerous strategies for coping, said John Santa, director of Consumer Reports’ Health Ratings Center.
“The rising percentage of people putting off health care makes us wonder if we are really done with the recession,’’ said Santa. “This is one of the most sensitive barometers of how people are coping with the financial pressures.’’
Doctors need to ask patients whether they are having trouble paying for drugs or medical care, and patients - if doctors fail to ask - should tell them when they are financially stressed, Santa said.
The survey found the use of generic drugs increased to 75 percent of the prescriptions filled, compared with 73 percent in 2010.
Even so, 39 percent of respondents didn’t know that generics must meet the same federal standards on safety and efficacy and contain the same active ingredient as their brand- name counterpart. Forty-one percent said their doctors only sometimes or never recommended a generic.