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Study Shows Women With Chronic Illness More Likely to Skip Meds Because of Cost

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What happened: Millions of Americans live with chronic illness. According to the National Health Council, 133 million are affected by chronic diseases, disorders or other health conditions. However, a new study found many patients do not take their medication as prescribed. The reason? The cost of said medications creates a financial hardship, i.e. they are too expensive.

The study, published in the August issue of Health Affairs, revealed women are more likely to skip doses or delay prescription refills than men. What’s more, women in the U.S. had a higher rate of cost-related nonadherence than those in other countries.

Prescription drug coverage systems — like those in the U.S. and Canada — that rely on employment-based insurance or require high patient contributions may disproportionally affect women, who are less likely to have full-time employment and more likely to be lower income. The disparities we found in access to medicines may produce health disparities between men and women that should be further explored. — Michael R. Law

The Frontlines: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a chronic illness is defined as any condition that “last[s] 1 year or more and require[s] ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both.” Examples of chronic illness include:

A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Steph Cullen, shared that living with chronic illness is tough. “I didn’t receive any ‘get well soon’ cards or flowers [when I was diagnosed].” She also said it is “lonely.” But, she explained, there are benefits to living with a chronic condition. “Living with a chronic illness has taught me is not to make assumptions about people’s lives, to believe people when they tell you they’re suffering, and to remember to check in on your friends.” You can submit your first-person story, too.

From Our Community:

What word describes your week so far?

Other things to know: To learn more about living with a chronic illness, check out these articles:

How to take action: Health care disparities in America are all too common, with millions of individuals being unemployed and/or uninsured. Call or write to your local representatives and let them know something needs to change. Everyone deserves to be comfortable, cared for and medically well — and be able to afford critical treatment.

Header image via Lazy_Bear/Getty Images

Originally published: August 5, 2020
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