National poll: many adults will struggle to afford medications even with Medicare reforms

A national poll, released today by the PAN Foundation, showed that even with a $2,000 annual limit on prescription costs in place, an alarming number of adults on Medicare would struggle to afford their medications.

The survey, conducted in October 2022, explored the impact of a $2,000 annual limit on out-of-pocket costs and what financial challenges may remain. A $2,000 annual cap on Medicare Part D out-of-pocket prescription drug costs was signed into law with several other Medicare Part D reforms through the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022 and will become effective in 2025.

Among all adults polled, about 75 percent said that it would be difficult to afford $2,000 in out-of-pocket prescription costs. Concerns about the difficulty of affording $2,000 annually for medications were highest among Black and Hispanic adults, adults with incomes under $50,000, and adults with chronic or rare diseases.

Charitable assistance will continue to be a lifeline for many with high out-of-pocket costs, and an important strategy to advance equitable health outcomes.

Kevin L. Hagan, PAN Foundation President and CEO

About 60 percent of respondents whose current prescription drug costs don’t exceed $2,000 said they would cut back on food-related expenses if faced with that total, and others reported that they would cut back on utilities or other medical expenses. Among adults whose current out-of-pocket medication costs typically exceed $2,000, more than half said that they have cut back on food-related expenses to afford their prescriptions.

People with Medicare insurance remain the only insured group in the U.S. without an annual limit on their out-of-pocket costs, and while that is set to change in 2025, the $2,000 cap passed through the Inflation Reduction Act will not solve the problem of affordability. About 30 percent of adults polled reported that the $2,000 cap would not have a significant impact on their ability to afford their medications.

“We were thrilled to celebrate an annual cap on out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries becoming the law. It will absolutely change lives, but a cap isn’t a cure for systemic issues in our healthcare system and does not solve inequities that persist in access to treatment,” said PAN President and CEO Kevin L. Hagan. “This polling underscores these concerns. Charitable assistance will continue to be a lifeline for many with high out-of-pocket costs, and an important strategy to advance equitable health outcomes.”

The PAN Foundation remains committed to access and affordability for all, advocating for legislation that will continue to close the gap for Medicare beneficiaries and advance equitable health outcomes. Learn more about PAN’s advocacy work and position statements.

About the PAN Foundation
The PAN Foundation is an independent, national 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to helping federally and commercially insured people living with life-threatening, chronic, and rare diseases with the out-of-pocket costs for their prescribed medications. 

Since 2004, we have provided more than 1 million underinsured patients with $4 billion in financial assistance. Partnering with generous donors, healthcare providers and pharmacies, we provide the underinsured population access to the healthcare treatments they need to best manage their conditions and focus on improving their quality of life. Learn more at panfoundation.org.