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High Drug Cost Spells Health Risks For Poor And Uninsured: Report

AURORA, CO - MARCH 27:  Pharmacy director Hank Wedemeyer prepares to fill a prescription at a community health center on Marc
AURORA, CO - MARCH 27: Pharmacy director Hank Wedemeyer prepares to fill a prescription at a community health center on March 27, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. The center, called the Metro Community Provider Network, has received some 6,000 more Medicaid eligable patients since the healthcare reform law was passed in 2010. Expansion of such clinics nationwide is considered key to serving the millions more patients set to be be covered by Medicaid if the healthcare reform passes the current challenge in the Supreme Court. Preventative health services and treatments at community health centers are also designed to reduce emergency room expenditures, which are up to 10 times more costly. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Uninsured people and those with low incomes are the most likely to go without prescription drugs they need because of cost -- and it could be harming their health, according to survey results published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday.

The CDC found that one-fifth of American adults overall asked their doctors to prescribe a medicine cheaper than their first choice. Thirteen precent of adults 18-64 didn't take a prescribed drug because of cost compared to 6 percent of those over 65. Rising health care prices are a big reason why more Americans aren't getting treatments they need.

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But the 45 million or more without health insurance are most vulnerable to the high cost of prescription drugs in the United States. Nearly a quarter of people without health insurance said they didn't take a medicine their physicians prescribed, according to the survey. A slightly larger percentage asked for a lower-priced substitute.

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The poor and near-poor were much more apt than people with higher incomes to simply go without the prescription drug they needed because of the cost.

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This isn't merely an academic exercise, the CDC emphasizes in its report:

Some cost-reduction strategies used by adults have been associated with negative health outcomes. For example, adults who do not take prescription medication as prescribed have been shown to have poorer health status and increased emergency room use, hospitalizations, and cardiovascular events.

Read the CDC report below: