NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — According to a newly released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of adults in the United States are not taking their medications as prescribed because of rising costs.

Data from the CDC showed most adults ages 18-64 took at least one prescription medication in 2021, but more than 8% of them – about 9.2 million people – said they tried to save money by skipping doses, taking less than prescribed, or delaying a prescription fill.

“The problem with that is if you’re only taking them some of the time or not taking them at all, the underlying condition you’re trying to treat isn’t being treated appropriately, which means that you’re probably going to have more problems with that disease, which actually ends up a lot of times being more costly,” said Dr. Gill Wright III, the director of Metro Public Health.

The results of the study show vast disparities in how often drug costs cause people to not take their medications as prescribed.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of adults without health care coverage did not take their medications as prescribed to reduce costs, compared with less than 7% of people who had private insurance.

Wright said there are some ways to cut costs.

“If you’ve got health insurance, which a lot of these people may not, but if you do, talk with the insurance company to understand if there may be a generic medication that is on the plan. That may be much cheaper, because a lot of times the copays are much lower. Talk to your doctor; sometimes doctors will have some samples that they can use to help you; talking to the pharmacy, because there are things like GoodRx that may reduce your costs also. We’ve seen a lot of medications, newer, have less side effects, but they also have a higher price tag,” he said.

Data from health analytics companies in the study shows that total prescription drug costs rose nearly 5% between 2020 and 2021, to $63 billion.

“It’s really disheartening for those who want to take their medication and know they’ve got an underlying problem and they can’t afford the medicine, and in a lot of those cases, we know it’s going to be more expensive for them not to take the medication,” Wright said.