Too Many Medications, Too Little Money: How Do Patients Cope?

Authors

  • Sandra J. Chubon Ph.D., R.N.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Sandra J. Chubon is Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, University of South Carolina—Aiken.
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  • Richard M. Schulz Ph.D.,

    1. Richard M. Schulz and Earle W., Lingle, Jr., are Associate Professors in the College of Pharmacy, University of South Carolina—Columbia.
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  • Earle W. Lingle Jr. Ph.D.,

    1. Richard M. Schulz and Earle W., Lingle, Jr., are Associate Professors in the College of Pharmacy, University of South Carolina—Columbia.
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  • Marcia A. Coster-Schulz M.P.H., M.S.N., R.N.

    1. Marcia A. Coster-Schulz is a Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Baptist Medical Center, Columbia, South Carolina.
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Address correspondence to Sandra J. Chubon, Ph.D., 6419 Macon Rd., Columbia, SC 29209.

Abstract

Abstract Many individuals with chronic illnesses have multiple medications prescribed that often are not covered by third party payers. In South Carolina, Medicaid pays for only three prescriptions per month per recipient. A qualitative pilot study was conducted to learn how Medicaid recipients with more than three prescriptions decide which ones to have filled under Medicaid and what they do about the remaining medications. Nineteen Medicaid recipients who had more than three prescriptions were interviewed in their homes. Research participants paid for medications out-of-pocket, borrowed money, were extended credit by the pharmacy, got samples from the physician, did not get prescriptions filled or refilled, took medicines less frequently or in lower doses to stretch their supply, and very infrequently took someone else's medication. These individuals decided which medications to take based on: their perceptions of the importance of the medication or the seriousness of the condition for which it was prescribed, current symptoms, and the drug's cost. Some participants had to choose monthly whether to buy medications or food.

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