Not taking medicines as prescribed can have huge costs both for patients and the U.S. health care system. Here are some numbers illustrating the problem:
—About 133 million Americans, or about 45 percent of the population, has at least one chronic disease.
—Nearly three in four Americans don't always take medication as directed, and one in three people never even fill their prescriptions.
—Such medication nonadherence is at least a factor in more than one in three medication-related hospital admissions.
—Roughly 125,000 premature deaths a year are blamed on medication nonadherence.
—Extra costs to patients, insurers and government health programs due to medication non-adherence is estimated that at least $290 billion per year.
—Every dollar spent on medication decreases total health costs to patients, insurers and government health programs by about $10.10 for people with high blood pressure, by $8.40 for congestive heart failure patients, by $6.70 for diabetics and by about $3.10 for patients with cholesterol disorders.
—For patients aged 65 and up with serious chronic health problems, not keeping to their prescription regimen can sharply increase total annual healthcare spending (by the patient plus Medicare or other insurer). A 2011 study's of patients insured through CVS Caremark Corp. found these higher annual costs per patient: $7,893 for congestive heart failure, $5,824 for high blood pressure, $5,170 for diabetes and $1,847 for cholesterol problems.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Script Your Future" campaign, Health Affairs journal, other research studies.