By the Numbers: Examining the Impact of Health Care Costs on Consumer Behavior

10.28.16

“Health care expenses are increasing too rapidly, and it’s affecting the entire economy,” CVS Health’s CEO Larry Merlo said during an October 2016 presentation about the future of health care. In fact, he noted, if current trends continue, within 10 years $1 out of every $5 spent in the United States will go toward health care.

This increased spending is having a negative impact on individuals and families, many of whom have to make tough decisions about how to allocate limited funds. For some, this may mean foregoing health care to pay for food or rent.

To understand how the rise in health care spending affects the American population, CVS Health conducted a public opinion poll in September 2016 with 2,000 registered voters.

Consumers are Delaying Medical Care and Prescriptions

Our poll results revealed that Americans are highly influenced by health care costs, and are indeed delaying or avoiding care due to affordability concerns.

In fact, nearly one in three respondents put off needed medical care within the past month because of  concerns that they could not afford it, and one in five put off filling a prescription in the past month for the same reason.

Some Groups More Concerned Than Others

The cost impact appears even more pronounced among younger respondents. Among those aged 18-29, 41 percent said they had put off needed medical care in the past month because of the cost. In addition, nearly one in three of those aged 18-44 have put off filling a prescription due to cost concerns. Conversely, only 14 percent of Americans aged 65 or older said they put off needed care for cost reasons.

Looking at other demographic groups, our poll found that a significantly larger percentage of Hispanics (44 percent) put off needed medical care in the past month due to cost concerns, compared with the general population.

Transitioning to a More Affordable Health Care System

These survey findings underscore the need to transition to a health care system that is more affordable, accessible and effective. To help effect these important changes, CVS Health has developed a number of solutions to help our customers get the medicines and care that they need at the lowest-possible cost, including:   

  • New strategies to lower costs for our pharmacy benefits manager clients and their members, with the goal of making premiums and out-of-pocket costs more affordable for consumers.

  • Cost-effective solutions for care delivery, including the expansion of access to high-quality, low-cost settings of care through our convenient care clinics.

Visit our Rising Drug Prices information center to learn more about our efforts to contain drug costs.