Personal Finance

Prescription for Panic: When You Can't Afford Your Healthcare Costs


A recession means making tough money decisions, we all know that. But for some, it quite literally means the difference between life and death.

John Murphy is a husband, a father, and a diabetic. He needs insulin, but when the economy collapsed and money tightened up, something had to give. Murphy had to choose between putting food on the table for his family and taking his medication. He chose the former and less than a week later was admitted to the hospital with severe chest pains as his blood pressure skyrocketed.

Murphy is far from alone. For the first time in over a decade, surveys show that Americans are filling fewer prescriptions. In fact, 11% now say they simply cannot afford their medication.

The problem is not relegated just to those without insurance, either. In some cases, even fully-insured patients can’t afford the co-pay that’s required for their drugs.

To make matters worse, now some people are skipping their doctor’s appointments altogether. According to a new study, 36% of Americans have put off needed care – and that may cost us all in the end by way of higher insurance premiums.

>>Read More: The Biggest Insurance Scheme of All Time?

NBC News’ Jeff Rossen, who filed this report for On The Money, remarked that he found dozens of cases like John Murphy in all corners of the country. This is a growing problem, he says, and unfortunately there is not a cure-all for most people trapped under the crushing weight of drug costs. People should know that they can talk to and work with their doctors to be put on a special payment plans, and of course, to always ask for the generic versions of drugs.

Additionally, some simple research at sites like DestinationRX and at local supermarkets and big-box stores like Costco can turn up some affordable solutions and some true steals. For instance, did you know that Stop & Shop is offering free 14-day supplies of antibiotics through March 21?

Of course, as Donny Deutsch posited on Wednesday’s show, the drug companies could always just lower their prices.

We’ll see if they’re listening.