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Survey: Affordability of Prescriptions Remains a Consumer Challenge with Education Needed for Cost-Saving Solutions

Each year, the average American spends $1,200 for their prescription drugs, more than any other country in the world, and according to a recent SingleCare report, prescription drug prices increased by 5% this year alone. As prescription drug prices continue to rise year after year, many consumers find themselves unable to afford their medications, causing lack of adherence and an overall decline to their health due to cost. While cost-saving options exist, such as SingleCare, many consumers are still unaware that lower cost options are available in order to help them save on their medications. 

SingleCare surveyed more than 1,000 people in the U.S. to better understand consumer’s awareness of cost-saving alternatives for prescriptions and how healthcare costs impact their everyday lives. 

Consumers are struggling to afford their prescriptions 

During the pandemic, more than 5.4 million Americans became newly uninsured and financial hardships impacted countless more. Access and adherence to affordable medications is critical for all Americans, especially to those who require a prescription for chronic illness. For those struggling to afford their medication, they’re oftentimes left to make the decision whether or not they continue to adhere to their prescription regimen. 

  • 69% said they’ve gone to pick up a prescription and found it was more expensive than they expected
  • Nearly 30% said they’ve skipped a medication or refill because it was too expensive
  • 34% said they’ve left the pharmacy counter without their medication because the cost was too high 
    • Of those, nearly half (48%) walked away over a price that was $100 or less
  • 24% said they’ve extended their day supply or split their doses because the prescription was too expensive
  • 30% said they’ve paid more than $100 out of pocket for a prescription

Need for education and consumer awareness of cost saving tools for prescription drugs

Shopping for prescription drugs is like any other marketplace: Consumers looking to save should compare prices and see what the cost of their medication is before they fill. As an example, sometimes paying the cash price for a medication—especially when paired with SingleCare—can be less expensive than an insurance copay. However, the overwhelming majority of consumers, even those without insurance, rarely check the price or even know about these savings solutions to further reduce the cost of their medication. 

  • 66% said they’ve never used a prescription savings card at the pharmacy 
  • Almost half (47%) don’t think the cash price of a prescription can be less expensive than a copay (it can!)
  • 42% either rarely or never check the price of a prescription before filling at the pharmacy  
    • However, more than a quarter said they’ve experienced that the cash price of a prescription at the pharmacy was less expensive than the copay

Despite generics offering savings, many consumers still prefer brand medications

Even though most generic drugs are the equivalent to their brand counterpart, typically with the same ingredients and cheaper, some consumers still prefer and trust the brand name products. In a recent SingleCare drug pricing report, of the top 500 most commonly filled drugs on SingleCare, 96% of them are generic and the average wholesale price is $3.45, which is $2.07 cheaper than the average brand-name drug price within the top 500. This past year alone, brand drugs saw an average price increase of $24 compared to generics which saw an average price increase of $.70.

  • Over one third (33%) typically chooses a brand drug even when there is a generic alternative when filling a prescription 
  • Nearly half (46%) have chose to take a brand drug over its generic option 
  • When receiving a prescription at the doctor’s office, 39% said they don’t ask their doctor for the generic option

Tips on how to save on your prescription medications 

From SingleCare’s Chief Pharmacy officer, Ramzi Yacoub, Pharm. D. 

  1. Switch to generic: Consumers should always seek out the generic option if there’s one available. Generic medications can save you a considerable amount of money so it’s always worth consulting with your doctor or pharmacist to take advantage of these cost savings opportunities. 
  2. Compare prices before filling: Before you head out to the pharmacy, make sure to check the price of your prescription before you fill. Prescription saving services, like SingleCare, allow you to enter your prescription and find local pharmacies with the lowest prices available. That way, you can check to see which pharmacy offers the lowest price for you to fill your prescription.
  3. Buy in bulk: Extend your prescription fills to 90 days if possible.A 90-day refill can cost less than filling one month’s supply at a time. Larger refills can also increase adherence to medications, which can decrease hospital admissions. 
  4. Use free drug coupons: SingleCare is a great resource as it can save you money at the pharmacy—up to 80% off the cash price of a drug. Manufacturer coupons or patient assistance programs are other options for prescription discounts. To find out more information on prescription savings service or brand manufacturer coupons, you can speak to your pharmacist or healthcare provider about these options.



SingleCare conducted this prescription drug survey online through AYTM on Mar. 19, 2021. This survey includes 1,000 United States adults ages 18+. Age and gender were census-balanced to match the U.S. population in age, gender, and U.S. region.