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New Survey: Painful Economy Puts Health Care Pinch on Young Adults

While savvy seniors shop smarter, young adults seek prescription for savings amid ailing economy

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J., Oct. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Contrary to popular belief that seniors are hit the hardest when it comes to the recent economic crisis, a new survey from Medco Health Solutions Inc. (NYSE: MHS) reveals that the sting in paying for health care costs amid the ailing economy is in fact most acute among young adults.

According to the new national survey "Feeling the Health Care Pinch," nearly 70 percent of adults aged 25-34 claim the economic downturn of the last 12 months has made it somewhat or significantly more difficult to pay for health care expenses. Ironically, among people over 55--pre-retiree and retiree aged consumers whom many often think of as struggling to pay for health care -- more than half said the downturn in the economy has not impacted their ability to pay for health care at all. Overall, three out of four people are concerned about the cost of health care.

The survey, conducted on behalf of Medco by Directive Analytics, unearths a compelling contradiction in who is actually feeling the pain of the current economic situation most when it comes to health care, and sheds some light on how people are dealing with health care costs.

"College loans, car payments and housing expenses are the typical costs of living you would expect a young adult to be worried about - but certainly not the cost of health care," said Paul Reyes, Medco pharmacist and co-host of Medco's national Ask the Pharmacist program. "Seniors are by and large well-versed in saving money on health care; but young adults, who are now facing more chronic diseases, may not be as wise in the ways of saving."

Many young adults are feeling the acute pain when it comes to health care costs and specifically the cost of prescription drugs, mirroring a rise in chronic diseases among those under 35. A number of studies have noted an increase in prevalence among young adults of diseases like diabetes and hypertension, which adds medication costs and other chronic health care expenses to the monthly budget.

Lost in the Search for Savings

While young adults indicate that they are in fact looking for ways to cut their medication costs, they are not as savvy when it comes to health care savings as their senior counterparts. According to the survey, 60 percent of adults age 25-34 say the economic downturn has made them more likely to consider ways to reduce medication costs. However, when asked what has prevented them from considering ways to save, 1 in 5 young adults said they don't know where to start, compared to only 3 percent of respondents over age 55. Furthermore, more than one-third of young adults believe their medication costs are fixed and they don't think they can save anything on what they currently pay.

"There seems to be an apathetic view of the cost of health care pervading the population - people either don't know where to start, or simply feel it is a futile search; but there are ways to cut those costs all around if you know where to look," said Reyes. "Many times, it can start with a simple question posed to your doctor or pharmacist - 'is there a generic for that?'"

Creative Cost-cutting Practices for Americans Looking to Save

When it comes to savings, many Americans 35 years and older are using a variety of means to reduce their medication costs, with many people looking to their health care provider for help. According to the survey, nearly half of Americans (47 percent) asked their doctor for a free sample of a medication, and nearly half (43 percent) asked their doctor or pharmacist about generic alternatives to their medications.

In addition, Americans are shopping around more: 1 in 4 Americans comparison shopped between two or more retail pharmacies for prescription medications, and nearly one-fifth (17 percent) used an online cost-comparison tool to look for lower-priced medications. Nearly one quarter of Americans used a mail order pharmacy instead of driving to the pharmacy because of the high price of gas.

Further Survey Findings

Overall, according to the survey, nearly 60 percent of Americans actively look for ways to reduce their medical costs, yet almost half believe their medication costs are fixed. Additional findings from the survey include:

-- Savvy Seniors Know How to Shop for Savings: The survey results show that

those over age 55 know how to utilize cost savings option better than

younger generations. Among the findings, 31 percent of people over age

55 used a mail order pharmacy instead of driving to the pharmacy because

of the high price of gas. Furthermore, 66 percent of older Americans

switched from a brand named drug to a generic in the last 12 months and

54 percent have asked their doctor or pharmacist about generic

alternatives to their medications.

-- Consumers Cautious with Children Under 18: People with children under

age 18 are quite concerned with cutting costs. Specifically, 80 percent

of people with children under age 18 are somewhat or much more concerned

about the cost of health, and 68 percent of them claim the economic woes

have made it significantly or somewhat more difficult to pay for health

care expenses. And while two-thirds of people with children are looking

for ways to save money on their medications, 1 in 5 respondents with

children under 18 don't think to look because they don't think

it will make a big difference.

-- Women Watch for Ways to Lower Costs: Not only might women be the savvy

shoppers for the family but they also are much more proactive in cutting

their health care costs. According to the survey, three out of five

women are considering ways to reduce their medication costs, a far

higher margin than their male counterparts. Specifically, half of women

polled had asked their doctor for free medication samples as a way to

reduce their medication costs; nearly 60 percent switched from a brand

name drug to a generic, while 40 percent used an over-the-counter

medication rather than purchase a prescription drug.

About Medco

Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) is the nation's leading pharmacy benefit manager based on its 2007 total net revenues of more than $44 billion. Medco's prescription drug benefit programs, covering approximately one-in-five Americans, are designed to drive down the cost of pharmacy health care for private and public employers, health plans, labor unions and government agencies of all sizes, for individuals served by the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program, and those served by Medco's specialty pharmacy segment, Accredo Health Group. Medco, the world's most advanced pharmacy(R), is positioned to serve the unique needs of patients with chronic and complex conditions through its Medco Therapeutic Resource Centers(R), including its enhanced diabetes pharmacy care practice through the Liberty acquisition. Medco is the highest-ranked independent pharmacy benefit manager on the 2008 Fortune 100 list. On the Net:

This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ materially from those projected. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the risks and uncertainties that affect our business, particularly those mentioned in the Risk Factors section of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
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