Personal Finance

32% of Americans With Health Insurance Are Skimping on Medications They Need Due to Cost

A patient speaking with a medical professional in an exam room.

Image source: Getty Images

That’s a really scary thing.

Key points

  • The cost of medication can be high even with insurance.
  • Skipping medication doses to save on costs could have serious consequences.

The cost of medication can vary a lot based on different factors. These include whether or not you have insurance and whether you’re taking a generic pill versus a name-brand drug.

If you have insurance and can use generic medications, your costs might be reasonably manageable. It’s when you get into name-brand drugs that your costs can start to soar — even if you’re insured.

The cost of medication has gotten so high that more people are skimping on it to conserve funds. In a recent Policygenius survey, 32% of respondents with health insurance said the cost of a prescription has prevented them from taking the full dose prescribed.

But that’s a potentially dangerous move. Not taking your medication as prescribed could render it ineffective or cause other issues. And so if you’ve been tempted to skip medication, it may be time to rethink your expenses and work as hard as you can to allocate more money to healthcare costs.

Don’t put your health at risk

Perhaps you’re living a very frugal lifestyle and don’t have expenses you can cut back on to free up money for medication. But if there are any non-essential expenses you’re paying for at present, then it may be time to set different priorities.

It’s not unreasonable to pay $15 a month for a streaming service, or to spend $25 on the occasional takeout order. But if it’s between those expenses and being able to take the right medication, you should cancel the former and use that money to cover the latter.

Meanwhile, if you’re able to start building yourself a little medical expense fund, you might be able to avoid a situation where you even have to contemplate cutting your pills in half to shave down your costs. Now there are different options for building up a medical expense fund. You could put money into a regular savings account. Or you can fund a tax-advantaged health account, like a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA).

With an FSA, you allocate pre-tax dollars to medical spending, but you have to use up your plan balance by the end of the year or otherwise risk forfeiting money. With an HSA, your contributions never expire, and you get the same tax break on the money you put in.

You can also invest HSA funds you’re not spending immediately, and gains in your account will be tax-free. Withdrawals are also tax-free when used for healthcare expenses.

Although you get more options and flexibility with an HSA over an FSA, to qualify for an HSA, you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan. Not every plan meets this requirement, and you may not want a plan with a high deductible, in which case you can fall back on an FSA.

Make saving for healthcare costs a priority

Messing with your medication schedule could lead to serious health consequences. Rather than run that risk, do your best to set aside money so you’re able to take your prescriptions as your doctor intended.

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