1 in 5 Seniors on Medicare Report Skipping Prescription Medications Due to High Cost and Inflation

Inflation continues to wreak havoc on the nation’s wallets, and it is having a disproportionately negative effect on those already at an economic disadvantage. As the battle for Medicare to be able to negotiate drug prices is also ongoing, we wanted to find out how seniors on Medicare are coping with the economic upheaval when it comes to their medications.

The results:

  • Nearly one-third of seniors on Medicare say affording their prescription drugs is still difficult despite healthcare coverage
  • One in five say they have skipped filling their prescriptions due to cost
  • Four in ten say inflation has made it more difficult for them to afford their medications
  • The majority strongly support the effort to regulate drug prices, but do not believe the current administration will be able to do so

30% of Seniors on Medicare Have Difficulty Affording Medications

When respondents were asked how difficult it is for them to afford their medications, despite receiving Medicare coverage, nearly one in three stated that it was somewhat (25%) or very (5%) difficult for them to pay for their prescription drugs.

This number rises with the number of medications needed by the Medicare recipient. The largest group of respondents (29%) report regularly taking five or more medications. When looking just at this 29%, 42% say it is somewhat (33%) or very (9%) difficult for them to afford their prescriptions.

Additionally, close to one in eight respondents say that despite their health insurance coverage, they still end up paying 50% or more of the total cost for their prescriptions.

40% Say Inflation Has Affected Their Ability to Pay for Medications

Four in ten respondents report that inflation has somewhat (27%) or greatly (13%) affected their ability to pay for their prescription drugs. In fact, 20% say they occasionally (11%), sometimes (7%), or often (2%) skip filling their prescriptions because they can’t afford to do so.

In order to afford their medications, 20% of respondents say they have reduced spending on leisure activities, 15% have used money from their savings, and 13% have even reduced spending on food. Write-in responses included, “Used credit cards,” “Borrowed money,” and “I skip taking some medications to make it last longer.”

91% Support Efforts to Regulate Prescription Drug Prices, But Fewer Believe it Can Be Done During This Administration

When asked if they support Medicare’s effort to negotiate prescription drug prices, respondents were overwhelmingly in favor, with just 9% saying they don’t support the regulation attempt. However, only 53% somewhat (40%) or strongly (13%) believe that the current administration will be able to negotiate drug prices fairly and accurately.

In fact, lack of action at the federal level to successfully bring down life-saving drug costs has prompted several states to take matters into their own hands, such as California’s recent announcement that it will begin to produce its own insulin at a reduced price.

These numbers change notably when looking at the political affiliation of respondents. 97% of Democratic respondents support drug price negotiation efforts and 79% at least somewhat believe the current administration can do so successfully.

This is opposed to 84% of Republican respondents who support drug price regulation and only 27% who believe the current administration may be able to do so.


This survey was commissioned by MedicarePlans.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish on July 1, 2022. In total, 1,000 participants in the U.S. were surveyed. All participants had to pass through demographic filters and screening questions to ensure that they were seniors aged 65+ who are currently receiving Medicare benefits.