With many Americans still struggling from the recession facing high health care costs, many people have chosen to cut medication or medical care to save money.
According to a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, the percentage of people who reported skipping medication and other forms of health care this year rose nine percentage points to 48 percent, the largest increase to date.
Of 2,038 adults over the age of 18, 49 percent (1,226) said they take at least one prescription medication, with the average amount of prescriptions being 4.5.
Of people who took medication, 28 percent said they took risks with their medication to save money. Sixteen percent admitted to not filling a prescription, 13 percent took an expired medication and 12 percent skipped a scheduled dose without consulting the doctor or pharmacist.
Those taking medication took other medical risks to save money, too. Twenty-one percent said they put off doctor's visits, 17 percent said they delayed a medical procedure and 14 percent said they declined a medical test.
Despite the high cost of medication, three out of four respondents said they filled prescriptions with generic drugs. However, the survey notes that 39 percent of respondents had concerns or misconceptions about generics. Some people thought generics weren't as effective or safe as brand-name drugs, or they didn't have to meet the same standards from the Food and Drug Administration.
However, generics and brand-name drugs are made with the same active ingredients and the makers of both drugs must follow the same regulations.
Furthermore, nearly 41 percent of survey respondents said their doctors rarely or never recommended generic drugs.
If a patient can't afford their medication, that's something his or her doctor needs to know, wrote John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center in the report. But to find out, doctors have to ask.
Santa continued, Doctors should think of themselves as stewards of their patient's care, and that includes considering their patient's ability to pay.