Report: Patients failing to follow medication regimen add $290B in annual costs

Patients who do not adhere to their medication regimen cost the U.S. health care system approximately $290 billion annually, according to a report released this week by the New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI).


The New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI) today released new research showing that patients who do not take their medications as prescribed by their doctors cost the U.S. health care system an estimated $290 billion in avoidable medical spending every year. NEHI, a nonprofit health policy organization, recommends four key actions that can best improve medication adherence.


According to the NEHI press release, NEHI’s research, contained in the new report, Thinking Outside the Pillbox: A System-wide Approach to Improving Patient Medication Adherence for Chronic Disease, notes that one third to one half of all patients do not take their medications properly. Patients with chronic diseases – which affect more than half of all Americans – are particularly susceptible to spotty adherence practices that leave them vulnerable to otherwise unnecessary hospitalizations and additional medical risks. According to one study of diabetes and heart disease patients cited by NEHI, mortality rates among patients who did not adhere to their medications were nearly double the rates of those who took their medications as prescribed.


(SOURCES: Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, August 13, 2009; New England Healthcare Institute,, accessed August 14, 2009)