What’s the Buzz

BuzzRx Survey: Half of Americans Struggle to Afford Prescriptions Due to the Pandemic

Buzzrx Survey Rx Affordability

Key takeaways:

Due to the financial stress of the pandemic…

  • 46% of people reported struggling to pay for their prescriptions—89% of those surveyed have insurance
  • 69% reported struggling to pay for prescriptions for themselves or their family members with a chronic illness.
  • Over 1 in 3 (34%) reported not filling a prescription due to cost and 37% reported rationing pills (skipped or split pills).
  • Nearly 1 in 3 survey respondents (28%) have had to choose between buying food and medicine at least once in the past 6 months. 26% never had to make this decision before the pandemic. 

The BuzzRx research team conducted a survey of 15,000 Americans about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Americans’ ability to pay for their prescriptions. 

BuzzRx found that half (46%) of survey respondents who take prescriptions monthly reported that they struggled to pay for these prescriptions because of financial stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This number increased to 69 percent when asked of survey respondents who are responsible for buying prescriptions for their family members with a chronic illness. 

The financial stress has been so intense for these individuals who reported that they struggle to pay for prescriptions that 34 percent reported not filling a prescription due to cost and 37 percent reported that they had rationed pills (skipped or split pills).

Health Insurance Does Not Equal Affordable Meds

Having health insurance did not offset the financial stress of affording prescriptions. 89 percent of survey respondents who reported that they struggled to afford prescriptions because of financial hardships caused by the pandemic noted that they have health insurance. This could be due to prescriptions not covered by a plan’s drug formulary, or a plan requiring that high deductibles must be met before prescription coverage begins. In the past ten years, deductibles have risen 111 percent. The average individual deductible is now $1,655, double the average from a decade ago. And according to eHealth’s 2020 ACA Index Report, the average family plan deductible for 2020 (across all family sizes) was $8,439, an increase of 5 percent from the previous year.

Choosing Between Essentials

Americans have had to make tough choices between filling prescriptions and other essentials. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 in 4 (28%) of survey respondents reported that they have had to choose between buying food and medicine at least once over the past 6 months. 26 percent never had to make this decision before the pandemic.

As reported by Feeding America, millions of people are getting help from food banks for the first time due to COVID-19. This often includes chronically hungry children, seniors on fixed incomes, and hardworking families who cannot make ends meet or recently lost their job due to the pandemic. For more information on how you can help a local food bank just by saving on prescriptions, visit buzzrx.com/food-banks. BuzzRx donates $1 to the Food Bank listed on the card every time you save. In some areas of the U.S., $1 can provide as many as 11 meals.

BuzzRx’s mission is to help Americans struggling to pay for their prescriptions through their free Prescription Discount Card, which can be used at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide for an average savings of 80%. Cardholders can also give back all year to their favorite charities, as BuzzRx donates to a nonprofit partner each time someone saves using the card (at no cost to them). The company partners with Make-A-Wish®, the ASPCA®, the National Kidney Foundation®, and 15 regional food banks in some of the most food-insecure areas of the U.S., resulting in over $7 million donated.

Methodology: BuzzRx surveyed more than 15,000 Americans during the month of October 2020.