A new survey from Good Rx portrays a bleak health care landscape — one in which 13% of the U.S. population is uninsured, another 13% had at least one prescription medication dropped by their health insurance plan last year, and 34% say their health insurance premiums have increased.
“Many of those who have insurance are paying more for it, and there’s no guarantee that it will cover their medications,” wrote Sasha Guttentag, a research scientist on Good Rx’s research team. “We’re not seeing great strides in health care coverage for many Americans.”
The survey, conducted annually, is based on responses collected from 1,202 Americans in late January.
More uninsured individuals
“Based on our survey, about 13% of people do not have any form of health insurance that helps pay for prescription medications,” according to Guttentag. “The COVID-19 pandemic has likely worsened uninsured rates.” In a 2019 Good Rx survey, the nationwide uninsured rate was 11%.
Increased health insurance premiums
The increase in the number of people who say their health insurance premiums have gone up isn’t limited to those who receive coverage through their employer. The survey indicates that even individuals insured through Medicare, Medicaid, or the health exchange saw a jump. Conversely, 15% noted that their premiums had gone down over the previous year, and 46% said they stayed the same.
Higher out-of-pocket costs
When asked about other insurance-related costs, 22% of respondents indicated their deductibles have increased over the past year (compared to 4% who saw them go down), and 22% report their co-pay/co-insurance has gone up (compared to 5% who said it decreased). Another 56% reported that such costs remained the same.
Fewer enrollees in high-deductible health plans
In early 2019, Good Rx reported that 45% of survey respondents had a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). Two years later, that number is down to 33%. Researchers note that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that more adults enrolled in HDHPs have unmet medical or prescription drug needs than adults enrolled in a traditional health plan. Additionally, the 2021 Good Rx survey reveals that 63% of people with HDHPs are “very unsatisfied” with the prescription drug coverage they receive with those plans, compared to just 18% who reported being “very satisfied.”
Decreased prescription medication coverage
The survey indicates that three-quarters of respondents take at least one prescription medication, and 28% have a prescription that is not covered by their insurance plan — the same as in 2019. “While just over half of this group spends less than $50 on these non-covered medications monthly, the rest spend up to $300 or more monthly,” the Good Rx report noted, adding that “about 13% of people had at least one prescription medication dropped from their insurance coverage in the last year. While this is a slight decrease from our 2019 finding, it is still a troubling sign.”