Researchers at the American Cancer Society have found that younger cancer survivors enrolled in high-deductible health plans are more likely to seek a change to a lower-cost prescription medication compared with those without a cancer history.
For their study, the authors identified 8931 adults from the National Health Interview Survey, conducted between 2011 and 2014, who reported being cancer survivors. The comparator population from the same survey were 126,287 individuals who had never been diagnosed with cancer. The authors documented the following outcomes as measures for change in prescription drug use due to financial constraints:
Taking less medicine
Delayed prescription refill
Asking a physician for lower cost medication
Buying prescription medications from another country
Seeking alternative treatments
The authors adjusted their analyses for enrollee demographics, number of comorbidities, interaction between cancer history and number of comorbid conditions, and insurance coverage. The population was stratified based on age (nonelderly, 18 to 64 years; elderly, 65 years and older) and the time of diagnosis (recently diagnosed, less than 2 years; previously diagnosed, 2 years or earlier).
In the nonelderly population, financial constraints had a significant influence on both the recently diagnosed (31.6%) and previously diagnosed (27.9%) cancer survivors who reported changing their prescription drug use. Only 21.4% in the comparator group reported such a change. The authors also reported that more than 32% of nonelderly cancer survivors enrolled in high-deductible plans were likely to ask their doctors for lower cost medications, compared with 22.5% in the comparator group.
The authors recommended that policy changes should be directed to those cancer survivors who have multiple comorbid conditions and high-deductible health plans.
Zheng Z, Han X, Guy GP, et al. Do cancer survivors change their prescription drug use for financial reasons? Findings from a nationally representative sample in the United States [published online February 20, 2017]. Cancer
. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30560.