Medication expenses compel the elderly to not adhere to prescribed medication regimen

In the Journal of Cancer Survivorshi, researchers from Harvard Medical School reported that nearly 10% of Medicare benefactors refrain from taking their routine prescription medications because they are just too expensive.

Irrespective of whether the elderly Medicare patients are being treated for cancer or not, they frequently omit taking a pill so that the meds can last longer, or completely do without filling a prescription because they just cannot afford it.

Based on the findings of the study, the authors suggest that just like other patients, the elderly with cancer or those who have survived it do not face greater medical expenses.

The simultaneous increase in the medical expenses with the aging population has caused a significant financial burden on patients. With a substantial increase in cancer costs, cancer patients receiving treatment incur a sizeable amount of out-of-pocket expenses during diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up. Cancer survivors, who may be taking medication for diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension or osteoporosis, are very often prone to co-morbidities.

In order to determine and understand the medication issues faced by cancer patients, researchers gathered data from the 2005 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey and Medicare claims from 2005.

Researchers examined data both from cancer survivors and non-cancer sufferers to understand why patients may not adhere to their prescribed drug regimen, whether they spent less on basic needs, or even refrained from taking medication to cover their out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Dr. Larissa Nekhlyudov and colleagues found that the cost-related non-adherence rate among cancer survivors was of 10% while that among non-cancer sufferers was 11%, a difference which is not statistically significant.

To conclude, Dr. Nekhlyudov said: “As the number of cancer survivors continues to increase and get older, the findings of our study enhance our understanding of the potential barriers to effective treatment of their non-cancer co-morbidities.”

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