(HealthDay News) — Nearly 1 in 10 American adults don’t take their medications as prescribed because they can’t afford to, according to a January data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The researchers used data from the 2013 National Health Interview for the report. Overall, they found, 7.8% of adults admitted not taking medication as recommended because of high costs. Insurance was a key factor in whether patients took their medications as prescribed. Among adults younger than 64, 6.1% with private insurance skipped medications to save money, compared with 10.4% of those with Medicaid and 14.0% of uninsured patients.

The poorest adults — those with incomes below 139% of the poverty level (about $27,300 for a family of three last year) — were most likely to not take medication as prescribed because of limited finances, the researchers found.

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According to the report, 15.1% of U.S. adults have asked their doctor for a lower-cost alternative. Moreover, 1.6% have bought prescription drugs from another country — where medications may or may not be regulated — and 4.2% have tried alternative therapies. Skimping on prescription drugs because of financial concerns was seen at every age, but much more so in people younger than 65.


  1. NCHS Data Brief Number 184, January 2015.