Older people skipping meds due to rising cost
MANY Australians aged over 50 are rationing their medication because of the high cost of prescription medicines, a new survey has found.
A survey of 3188 people carried out by lobby group National Seniors Australia found 21% of Australians aged 50 to 64 are skipping doses to counter mounting costs.
Of those aged over 65, 12% are skipping doses, the findings showed.
National Seniors CEO Michael O'Neill said the extent to which baby boomers were doing without could see access to affordable medication become an election issue.
The survey's findings are to be presented at a Medicines Australia conference in Sydney on Wednesday.
Previous National Seniors research showed that rising living costs mostly hurt the over-70s who, without the benefit of superannuation, survive on small fixed incomes.
But Mr O'Neill said the latest findings suggested it was 50- to 64-year-olds who were struggling with the costs of prescription medicines.
He said the findings confirmed the vital role social security cards such as the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and the Pensioner Concession Card played in ensuring affordable medicines for over-65s.
"With over half those surveyed saying that higher drug costs would influence their vote, moves to curtail the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) could become an election issue," Mr O'Neill said.
The survey found around a third of 50- to 64-year-olds had felt financial strain due to prescription costs in the past five years.
Mr O'Neill said many older people were skipping pills or taking smaller doses to curb costs, while even more were looking for cheaper alternatives and some were not filling their prescriptions at all.
KEY STATISTICS FROM THE REPORT:
* 30% of those aged 50–64 reported financial strain in the past five years due to costs of prescription medicines
* 21% of those aged 50–64 facing financial strain are rationing their pills because of the cost
* 41% of those aged 50–64 facing financial strain have sought cheaper alternatives
* 18% of those aged 50–64 facing financial strain have not filled a prescription
* People aged over 65 reported significantly lower levels of financial strain and medicine rationing due to drug costs
* 55% of the 3188 people aged over 50 surveyed say higher drug costs due to loss of government subsidies would influence their vote