A fifth (21 per cent) of Australians aged 50 to 64 with financial strain from the cost of prescription medicines are skipping doses to temper mounting costs, a new report has revealed.
This compares to 12 per cent of those aged 65-plus.
These findings, from a National Seniors survey of 3188 people aged 50-plus, were presented at a Medicines Australia conference in
Sydney this week.
The extent to which the baby boomers are doing without could see access to affordable medication become an election issue.
Previous National Seniors research shows that rising living costs impact mostly on the
over-70s, who, without the benefit of superannuation, survive on small fixed incomes.
However, these findings suggest that when it comes to prescription medicines it’s the 50 to 64-year-olds who are struggling.
The findings confirm the vital role social security cards – such as the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and the Pensioner Concession Card – play in ensuring affordable medicines for the over-65s.
The story would be very different without the government concessions.
With over half those surveyed saying that higher drug costs would influence their vote, moves to curtail the PBS could become an election issue.
The survey reveals around a third of 50 to 64 year-olds have felt financial strain due to prescription costs in the past five years.
Older Australians are skipping pills or taking smaller doses to help their dollar go further. Even greater proportions are looking for cheaper alternatives, while others just aren’t filling their prescriptions at all.
Key findings include:
* 30 per cent of those aged 50-64 report financial strain in the past five years due to prescription
medicines – this compares to only 13 per cent for those aged 75+;
* 21 per cent of those aged 50 to 64 who face financial strain are “rationing” their pills because of the cost – this compares to 12 per cent of those aged 65-plus;
* 41 per cent of those aged 50 to 64 who face financial strain have sought cheaper alternatives – this compares to 33 per cent aged 65-plus;
* 18 per cent of those aged 50 to 64 who face financial strain have not filled a prescription – this compares to 6 per cent of those aged 65 plus;
* 55 per cent say that higher drug costs (as a result of a loss of government subsidies) will influence their vote.
Senior Australians and Prescription Medicines: Usage, Sources of Information and Affordability is available at www.national seniors. com.au
The report’s authors are Dr Tim Adair, Lea Ortega and Dr Jeromey Temple.