Wasted healthcare money costs the American healthcare system over $200 billion every year, reports IMS Health. When put next to other numbers, such as the skyrocketing national debt, $200 billion doesn’t seem all that appalling. But this next statistic should shock you. That $200 billion in waste could pay the healthcare costs of a whopping 24 million uninsured Americans.
Some of the wasted healthcare money stems from misdiagnoses, medication errors, and not enough generic drug prescriptions. However, the IMS Health study notes that the biggest waste comes from medication non-adherence, which costs America approximately $105 billion each year.
What is medication non-adherence?
Medication non-adherence, aka the king of wasted healthcare money in America, is when a patient does not take his/her prescribed drug. Prescription non-adherence can happen for a variety of reasons, but often occurs because a patient cannot afford to purchase the prescription. The Atlantic reports that as many as 30% of prescriptions are never filled out and that as many as 50% of medications aren’t taken as prescribed.
Some of the worst offenders are people with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. As many as 80% of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers don’t regularly take their medicines.
Why does medication non-adherence lead to wasted healthcare money?
The numbers speak for themselves: $105 billion in wasted healthcare money due to non-adherence. About 12 million uninsured people who could receive coverage if that waste was cut.
Aside from the waste, medication non-adherence is dangerous to the patients who choose not to take their prescriptions. 125,000 people die each year because of medication non-adherence. One in ten hospitalizations is due to non-adherence. If patients started taking their medicine on a regular basis, tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars would be saved. When you consider that millions of uninsured people would receive coverage by cutting healthcare waste, the number of lives saved climbs even higher.
What can be done to prevent non-adherence?
A number of recommendations to improve patient adherence have been made. One recommendation is to make it easier for doctors to track compliance; special pill bottles and lids can help with this goal. If a doctor sees that his/her patient is not taking a medication, the doctor can take steps to ensure that the patient begins taking the medicine.
Another suggestion is to reduce the costs of medication and make them easier for patients to afford them. While this may seem like an unrealistic goal, the use of generic drugs instead of brand names can help to make prescriptions more affordable.
And if all else fails, Discount Drug Network’s prescription discount card can be used to get a discount on any medication approved by the FDA. The card is completely free and anyone can use it!