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Danes with Chronic Conditions Face Steep Medication Costs Despite Welfare

Published on Tue Nov 21 2023Pill Box | NIAID on Flickr Pill Box | NIAID on Flickr

A new study from a team of Irish and Danish researchers uncovers a pressing issue within Denmark's healthcare system: the significant financial burden placed on adults living with multimorbidity – the presence of two or more chronic conditions – when it comes to out-of-pocket expenditures for prescription medicines. The research, highlighting the economic strain, found that individuals with five or more conditions spent an average of 320€ annually compared to just 44€ for those without any chronic ailments. This spike in expenditures raises concerns about inequalities within the Danish welfare model, especially as those with multimorbidity generally have lower household incomes.

The comprehensive study evaluated the entire Danish adult population's prescription medicine expenses for the year 2020. It revealed that as the number of chronic conditions increased, so did the out-of-pocket expenses – even after accounting for demographic and socioeconomic factors. The research echoes patterns seen globally, indicating that Denmark is not immune to the healthcare affordability challenges that permeate other countries. Although Denmark's system of state subsidies for prescription expenses curbs some of these costs, it still leaves a considerable gap for the citizens most in need.

Such disparities underscore the potential need for policy revisions. Suggestions include expanding entitlements for low-income groups, which are more susceptible to multiple chronic conditions, and integrating medication reviews to reduce costs associated with potentially unnecessary prescriptions. Additionally, encouraging transparent conversations about costs and care could foster a more equitable healthcare framework.

How this study's findings will influence Denmark's welfare policies and healthcare strategies remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the burden of multimorbidity stretches beyond just health implications – it's a financial weight that many are struggling to carry. With almost a quarter of the adult population affected, pharmacoeconomic solutions addressing both medication adherence and economic barriers are now more essential than ever.

Written by Larkin, J., Smith, S. M., Christensen, L. D., Voss, T. S., Vestergaard, C. H., Paust, A., Prior, A.
Tags: Economics | Economics:Health | Medicine | Medicine:Economics

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