KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Study Finds Nearly A Quarter Of Prescriptions Go Unfilled

Reuters: "Many people whose doctors start them on medications for conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure may never fill those prescriptions, a new study suggests. Researchers found that among more than 75,000 Massachusetts patients given drug prescriptions over one year, 22 percent of the prescriptions were never filled. ... Such 'non-adherence,' the study found, was common even among patients prescribed drugs for chronic conditions that can have serious health consequences. Between 28 percent and 31 percent of new prescriptions for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, for example, went unfilled, according to findings published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine." Some people may not have understood the need for medicines if the health problems had few symptoms--such as heart disease or high cholesterol. In addition, although the study included only people with health insurance, the researchers noted that co-payments for medications may be high or some people may be prescribed a drug not covered (Norton, 2/17).

Meanwhile, The Associated Press/Seattle Times reports: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says more of its workers are enrolled in the retail giant's health insurance plan in 2010 than last year, but the share of its employees who are insured at all has declined. Wal-Mart, the world's largest private employer with more than 2 million workers, says 54 percent of its employees now have coverage, which reaches about 1.2 million people including family members. ... The number of Wal-Mart employees with health coverage -- provided by either Wal-Mart or another source -- dropped from 94 percent last year to 87 percent. Wal-Mart said 43,000 of its workers receive health coverage through a state assistance program, up from 36,000 last year" (Bartels, 2/17). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.