May 14, 2008 -- A new report shows that for the first time, more than half of Americans with health insurance are taking medications for chronic conditions.
The report comes from Medco Health Solutions Inc., a pharmacy benefits management company. Medco analyzed data on more than 2.7 million insured Americans in 2007 and found that 51% took chronic medications in 2007, up from 47% in 2001-2002 and from 50% in 2003-2006.
"It appears that we have now reached the tipping point where treating chronic diseases and conditions is more common than not," says Robert Epstein, MD, Medco's chief medical officer, in a news release.
In 2007, the top six chronic conditions for medication treatment were:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Lipids (such as cholesterol)
- Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Ulcer and heartburn
Senior citizens are the most likely to take chronic medications. But among women aged 20-44, nearly half -- 48% -- took chronic medications in 2007, with antidepressants being their most common type of prescription drug.
Here are the percentages of people on at least one chronic medication in 2007:
- Girls aged 0-19: 24%
- Boys aged 0-19: 28%
- Men aged 20 and older: 52%
- Women aged 20 and older: 64%
Among people taking chronic medications, 36% take one drug, 24% take two drugs, 16% take three drugs, 10% take four drugs, and 14% take five or more medications.