Report: When insurance denies coverage, Americans skip meds

When it comes to buying medications prescribed by a doctor in the United States, many Americans rely on insurance to cover the cost. Drugs can get quite expensive in the USA, and healthcare insurance coverage of the cost is often vital for low-income and middle-class citizens. As an NPR poll showed this week, when a doctor prescribes medication and that medication isn't covered by a patient's health insurance, nearly half of those patients "simply don't fill the prescription."

A study released by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health focused on income inequality in the United States. This study focused on 1,889 adults ages 18 or older living in the United States and was conducted between July 17 and August 18, 2019.

NOTE: Over the past decades polls like these have made a major change in the methods with which they collect data with respect to new and ever-more-common types of technology. In this case, the report made specific note that the sample in the poll was a nationally representative, probability-based telephone sample – including both landlines AND cell phones. This assures us we're not just getting a sample of the very non-representative spattering of US citizens still using landlines alone.

The poll shows that most Americans have health insurance that includes some form of prescription drug coverage. This same poll found that one-third of adults in the USA found that their health insurance did not cover a drug prescribed by their doctor – that's across all income groups, polled in 2019.

Above you'll see a chart showing the percentage of adults who did not fill a prescribed prescription drug due to their insurance's denial for coverage of said drug. Chart via Alyson Hurt/NPR.

For more information on the poll and study, see Life Experiences and Income Inequality in the United States as published by NPR in January 2020. This study also included the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.