Warren’s Argument That Millions Can’t Afford Their Rx Drugs Holds Up

“Last year, 36 million Americans didn’t have a prescription filled because they couldn’t afford it.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) throughout the Dec. 19 Democratic presidential main debate. 

During a heated change over well being reform throughout the December Democratic presidential main debate Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren turned to the subject of excessive prescription drug costs.

This story was produced in partnership with PolitiFact.

This story might be republished without cost (details). “Last year, 36 million Americans didn’t have a prescription filled because they couldn’t afford it,” the Massachusetts senator stated.

Drug costs are a persistent hot-button challenge, and one of many well being points voters say they most need Washington to tackle. So we determined to take a more in-depth look.

We contacted the Warren marketing campaign, which directed us to a February survey from the Commonwealth Fund, a basis headquartered in New York.

The Data

The Commonwealth data helps Warren’s level; in reality, it’s a barely bigger quantity than she stated on the controversy stage.

In 2018, the researchers estimate, 37 million non-elderly adults went with out filling a prescription as a result of they may not afford it. That’s nearly 1 in 5 of the U.S. inhabitants.

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Having protection, the researchers be aware, doesn’t assure you’ll afford remedy. The survey makes a degree of noting the 87 million non-elderly adults are uninsured, skilled a niche in protection or are “underinsured” — which implies they’d protection your complete yr, however nonetheless confronted out-of-pocket prices (excluding premiums) that imposed a considerable monetary burden.

That’s one other level Warren — and different candidates — repeated throughout the debate’s well being care portion.


PBSNewsHour/Politico Presidential Debate, Dec. 19, 2019

Email interview with Warren for President, Dec. 19, 2019

The Commonwealth Fund, “Health Insurance Coverage Eight Years After the ACA,” Feb. 2019.

Kaiser Family Foundation, “KFF Health Tracking Poll – February 2019: Prescription Drugs,” March 2019.

Kaiser Family Foundation, “Public Opinion on Prescription Drugs and Their Prices,” Nov. 20, 2019.

Gallup, “Millions in U.S. Lost Someone Who Couldn’t Afford Treatment,” Nov. 12, 2019.

“Those are people with health insurance, as well,” Warren added. “People who can’t do the copays, people without can’t do the deductibles.”

The Commonwealth paper suggests a lot of this “underinsurance” challenge comes from deterioration of well being plans Americans get by way of work, which is the best way most non-elderly Americans get protection.

Commonwealth isn’t the one group to have a look at this query of prescription drug affordability. A November poll from West Health and Gallup surveyed greater than 1,000 adults, asking them if, previously 12 months, they’d not had sufficient cash to afford a doctor-recommended remedy.

About 23% of respondents reported such a difficulty — a determine Gallup extrapolated to counsel 58 million Americans experiencing what it referred to as “medication insecurity.”

Meanwhile, a February poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation discovered that of adults taking pharmaceuticals, about 1 in four reported some issue in affording that remedy. (KHN is an editorially unbiased program of the inspiration.)

The findings drive residence an important level: Broadly, Warren’s quantity matches what the info reveals. If something, it may very well be even worse than she steered.

Our Ruling

Warren stated that final yr 36 million Americans forwent a prescription due to the associated fee barrier.

The knowledge helps her declare. And different analysis additional paints an image of widespread affordability issues.

We price this declare True.

Shefali Luthra:”>, @Shefalil

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