Older Americans and Caregivers

Fact Sheet


  • Every day 10,000 people turn 65 in the U.S.[1]and the number of Americans ages 65+ is projected to more than double from 46 million to over 98 million in the next three [2]
  • The] senior population is expected to grow by 49.5 percent – from approximately 49.36 million to 73.79 million – by 2030. Growth rates will vary by state, from 33.4% in New York to 85.1% in Alaska.[3]
  • For 12 specialty drugs used to treat four health conditions – hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer – Medicare Part D enrollees face at least $4,000 and as much as nearly $12,000 in annual out-of-pocket costs in 2016 for one drug [4]
  • In 2016, Medicare offered 886 Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) across the 34 PDP regions nationwide (excluding the territories), a 24% drop since 2014 and the smallest number of PDPs available since Part D started in [5]
  • The average cost for a year’s supply of 622 prescription drugs widely used by seniors doubled between 2007-2013 to more than $11,000, which is almost half of the median income for Medicare beneficiaries.[6]
  • 90% of older Americans rely on one prescription medication on a regular basis; as many as 40% use five or more weekly; and 12% take at least ten drugs per [7]
  • As of 2014, 40% of seniors purchased prescription medications online, more than any other age group.[8]
  • 58% of senior citizens use the Internet on a regular basis for information, news and email[9]; 78% of people over 65 own a cell phone and 55% own a [10]
  • Approximately 92% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 77% have at least [11]
  • Seniors with chronic conditions see an average of 14 different doctors and fill an average of 50 prescriptions a [12]
  • Between 2000-2010, the average out-of-pocket spending among Medicare beneficiaries increased 44% percent, from $3,293 to $4,734.[13]
  • People age 65 and older make up 13% of the U.S. population, yet they account for 34% of all prescription medications and 30% of all non-prescription [14]


  • Currently there are 35,000 active online drug sellers[15]; a recent review of more than 11,000 websites selling prescription medications online to U.S. consumers found approximately 96 percent appear to be in conflict with U.S. laws and pharmacy practice standards[16]; and 50% of medicines sold online are fake or [17]
  • Medicines sold online often contain little or no active ingredients; are manufactured in unsafe conditions; and/or contain floor wax, mercury, concrete, chalk, boric acid, road tar, paint, anti- freeze and other poisons.[18]
  • Counterfeit drugs are responsible for up to 1 million deaths annually worldwide[19]; and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the counterfeit drug trade was $431 billion a year industry in 2012.[20]
  • Nearly one in four adult Internet consumers has purchased prescription medicine online and almost one in five of those indicated that they bought from a website that was not associated with a local pharmacy or health insurance [21]
  • Buying prescription medicines from illegal online pharmacies increases the risk of credit card and identity [22]
  • Online pharmacies that display the VIPPS seal have successfully undergone the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s rigorous screening process, which includes a thorough review of all policies and procedures as well as on-site inspections of facilities used by the site to receive, review and dispense [23]


  • U.S. spending on prescription drugs is projected to continue climbing faster than overall health care expenditures; cumulatively from 2013 to 2018, prescription drug spending is predicted to rise by an average of 7.3% annually.[24]
  • Total prescriptions dispensed in 2015 reached 4.5 billion and total spending on medicines in the U.S. reached $310 billion in 2015, up 8.5 percent from the previous year.[25]
  • Two-thirds of traditional Medicare beneficiaries 65 and older have multiple chronic conditions and more than 4 million (about 15%) have at least six long-term ailments. Those sickest seniors account for more than 41% of the $324 billion spent on traditional [26]

Harvard Business Review, June 2016
2 Aging in the United States, Population Reference Bureau, January 2016
3 America’s Health Rankings – Seniors Report, UnitedHealth Foundation, June 2016
4 Variation in Out-of-Pocket Costs for Medicare Part D Enrollees in 2016, Kaiser Family Foundation, December 2015
5 The Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Benefit, Kaiser Family Foundation, November 2015
6 AARP Rx Price Watch Report, February 2016
7 Aging and Drugs, J. Mark Ruscin, PharmD, Sunny A. Linnebur, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS, CGP
8 Seniors 2014: Beyond the Wishful ‘Silver Surfers’ Label, emarketer.com, 2014
9 Americans’ Internet Access (2000-2015), Pew Research Center, 2016
10 Demographics of Device Ownership, Pew Research Center, 2015
11 Healthy Aging Facts, National Council on Aging
12 Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
13 How Much is Enough? Out-of-Pocket Spending Among Medicare Beneficiaries, Kaiser Family Foundation, 2014
14 State of Aging and Health in America, 2004, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
15 The Internet Pharmacy Market in 2016, Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies and LegitScript, January 2016
16 Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, April 2016
17 Substandard, Spurious, Falsely Labelled, Falsified and Counterfeit Medical Products, World Health Organization
18 Poisons Found in Counterfeit Medicines, Partnership for Safe Medicines,
19 Counterfeit Drugs Kill 1 Million People Annually, Interpol, 2013
20 Policy Innovation Memorandum, No. 21, Council on Foreign Relations
21 Buying Prescription Medicines Online, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2013
22 What You Need to Know Before You Buy Prescription Medications Online, Disease Management, 2015
23 Buying Medicines Online, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
24 Observations in Healthcare Spending, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 2016
25 Medicines Use and Spending in the U.S.: A Review of 2015 and Outlook to 2020, IMS 2016
26 Nation’s Sickest Seniors Account for Half of Medicare Spending, USA Today, 2015