Health plan sponsors aren’t going to like this: Worries about the economy, increased expenses, reduced income and a desire to lighten their debt have older workers acting as their own doctors.
Two disturbing findings from the most recent Health and Retirement Study, a comprehensive national survey of older Americans sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and Social Security Administration:
- 21.5% of individuals 50 and older said they’ve made prescription drug changes to save money, and
- 19.4% of those 50 and older skipped doctor appointments to save money.
The results of the survey, which was taken by 4,433 individuals, was included in a recent Employee Benefit Research Institute report.
Those are some scary stats for HR/Benefits pros who are struggling to keep expensive medical claims — and in turn health insurance premiums — down.
If workers, especially older workers, aren’t sticking to their medication schedules or skip doctor visits, their chances of suffering from a serious/life-threatening illness are bound to increase. And you know what the result of that tends to be: even higher insurance premiums.
Perhaps even more disheartening: Employees who said their health was “poor” were the most likely to make prescription drug changes or skip medical appointments in an attempt to save money.
Of those who said they are attempting to cut healthcare spending, 30% of those who said they were in poor health adjusted their meds, and more than a third skipped doctor appointments.
On the other hand, only 15.3% of survey participants in good health said they’ve tried to save money by tinkering with their meds, and less than 10% skipped a doctor appointment.
Popular prescription changes
The survey also broke down the most popular prescription drug changes survey participants made:
- 82.1% switched to cheaper generic drugs
- 40.3% asked for free samples
- 27.1% stopped taking one or more pills
- 23% split pills, and
- 22.8% reduced dosage.