The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of Americans to face healthcare insecurity, according to CoverMyMeds’ 2020 Medication Access Report. As of June 5, 2020, 44 million people — over a quarter of the U.S. workforce — had filed for first-time unemployment benefits since March 2020, when much of the U.S. economy began to shut down in response to the pandemic. This is six times the number of claims during the peak of the Great Recession. Nearly 70 percent of patients have made personal or financial sacrifices to afford prescribed medications. When asked what medication barriers their patients are experiencing due to COVID-19, 30 percent of providers said their patients are unable to pay for prescriptions. Also, since the beginning of COVID-19, more than 20 percent of patients said they’ve used a cash price program to help afford medications.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked adoption of many healthcare technologies, but there is still room for growth. Prior to COVID-19, only 11 percent of patients used telehealth services. Now, 67 percent say they are more likely to use telehealth services moving forward. Despite increased utilization, more than 30 percent of providers said lack of integration within EHR and privacy concerns were challenges they faced with telemedicine. And 80 percent of providers surveyed listed patients’ lack of technology skills as a telemedicine challenge.

Many Americans are facing medication access challenges, such as affordability barriers and manual processes that can delay care. When patients cannot afford their prescriptions, 29 percent admit to abandoning their medications while 52 percent seek affordability options through their physician, a labor-intensive process which creates additional work for the provider and can delay the patient’s time to therapy. 55 percent of patients reported delays in time to therapy due to a prescribed medication requiring prior authorization. And 82 percent of patients say they spent at least one hour or more making multiple phone calls to track down needed information to begin specialty therapies. As a result of this time-consuming administrative work, nearly one in 10 patients reported waiting eight weeks or more to receive their first dose of therapy.

Source: 2020 Medication Access Report, CoverMyMeds