Center for American Progress Action

Arizona Residents in the Medicare Coverage Gap Unable To Afford Medication

Read more stories on economic justice and health care

This storybook features women in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire whose stories center on issues from prescription drug pricing and health insurance, to child care and paid leave.

Kathy Saulsberry is pictured in June 2022.

Kathy Saulsberry is pictured in June 2022. (Photo credit: Kathy Saulsberry)

Three in 10 Americans report not taking their medications as prescribed due to unaffordability. Even some Medicare recipients cannot avoid high prescription drug costs, as Kathy Saulsberry in Phoenix discovered when she ended up in the Medicare coverage gap, where recipients must pay the full price of their prescriptions out of pocket

When Kathy fell into the Medicare coverage gap last year, she could no longer afford her diabetes medication. Luckily, her doctor had free samples to help Kathy make it through the end of the year. But this isn’t the first time health care costs put Kathy in a bind: More than a decade ago, Kathy developed multiple sclerosis, leaving her unable to work. With mounting bills and no income, she had to move in with family and friends for two years until she could get back on her feet.

Good and affordable health care shouldn’t be treated like a gift. Prescription drug costs make it really difficult to make ends meet on a fixed income. Kathy Saulsberry

U.S. prescription drug prices are almost four times higher than prices in comparable countries. Until Congress enables Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, seniors and Americans with disabilities will continue to bear the burden of pharmaceutical price gouging.