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Patterns of borrowing to finance out-of-pocket prescription drug costs in Canada: A descriptive analysis

TitlePatterns of borrowing to finance out-of-pocket prescription drug costs in Canada: A descriptive analysis
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsKolhatkar, A., Cheng L., Morgan S. G., Goldsmith L. J., Dhalla I. A., Holbrook A. M., and Law M. R.
PagesE554 - E550

Background: Out-of-pocket drug costs lead many Canadians to engage in cost-related nonadherence to prescription medications, but our understanding of other consequences such as borrowing money remains incomplete. In this descriptive study, we sought to quantify the frequency of borrowing to pay for prescription drugs in Canada and characteristics of Canadians who borrowed money for this purpose. Methods: In partnership with Statistics Canada, we designed and administered a cross-sectional rapid-response module in the Canadian Community Health Survey administered by telephone to Canadians aged 12 years or more between January and June 2016. We restricted our analyses to participants who responded to the question regarding borrowing money to pay for prescription drugs and used logistic regression to identify characteristics associated with borrowing. Results: A total of 28 091 Canadians responded to the survey (overall response rate 61.8%). The weighted proportion of respondents who reported having borrowed money to pay for prescription drugs in the previous year was 2.5% (95% confidence interval 2.2%–2.8%), an estimated 731 000 Canadians. The odds of borrowing were higher among younger adults, people in poor health and people lacking prescription drug insurance. Other factors associated with increased adjusted odds of borrowing were having 2 or more chronic conditions, low household income and higher out-of-pocket prescription drug costs. Interpretation: Many Canadians reported borrowing money to pay for out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, and borrowing was more prevalent among already vulnerable groups that also report other compensatory behaviours to address challenges in paying for prescription drugs. Future research should investigate policy responses intended to increase equity in access to prescription drugs.

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