Data Brief | No. 141 | January 2023

New Jersey Residents Worried about High Drug Costs; Support a Range of Government Solutions

According to a survey of more than 1,100 New Jersey adults, conducted from October 2 to October 24, 2022, respondents are concerned about prescription drug costs and express a strong desire for policymakers to enact solutions.

More than half (54%) of survey respondents reported being somewhat or very worried about affording the cost of prescription drugs. Worry varied substantially by income group, with respondents in households making less than $50,000 per year1 experiencing the most worry (see Figure 1). However, it is important to note that a large percentage of households making above $75,000 per year also reported worrying about affording prescription drugs.

DB 141 - NJ Drug Costs Figure 1.png

In addition to being worried about prescription drug affordability in the future, many New Jersey respondents have skipped, delayed, or avoided care altogether in the prior 12 months due to the cost. Indeed, nearly 1 in 4 respondents (23%) reported rationing medication by either not filling a prescription, cutting pills in half, or skipping a dose of medicine in the last year due to cost (see Figure 2).

DB 141 - NJ Drug Costs Figure 2.png

These hardships disproportionately impact people in lower-income households. As Table 1 shows, respondents living in households earning less than $50,000 and those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 per year reported higher rates of rationing their prescription medicines than respondents living in higher-income households. These hardships are alarmingly prevalent in middle-income households, as well.

Respondents with New Jersey Medicaid reported the highest rates of rationing medication compared to other insurance types, followed by those with private insurance. Finally, respondents living in households with a person with a disability reported notably higher rates of rationing medication due to cost in the past 12 months compared to respondents without a disabled household member (see Table 1).

DB 141 - NJ Drug Costs Table 1.png

Considering these prescription drug cost concerns—as well as concerns about high healthcare costs generally2—it is not surprising that New Jersey respondents were generally dissatisfied with the health system:

  • Just 32% agreed or strongly agreed that “we have a great healthcare system in the U.S.,”
  • While 72% agreed or strongly agreed that “the system needs to change.”

When given more than 20 options, the options cited most frequently as being a "major reason" for high healthcare costs were:

  • 74%—Drug companies charging too much money
  • 74%—Hospitals charging too much money
  • 72%—Insurance companies charging too much money

When it comes to tackling high drug costs, New Jersey respondents endorsed a number of prescription drug-related strategies:

  • 90%—Cap out-of-pocket costs for life-saving medications, such as insulin
  • 89%—Require drug companies to provide advanced notice of price increases and information to justify those increases
  • 89%—Authorize the Attorney General to take legal action to prevent price gouging or unfair prescription drug price hikes
  • 89%—Set standard prices for drugs to make them affordable
  • 88%—Prohibit drug companies from charging more in the U.S. than abroad
  • 86%—Create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to examine the evidence and establish acceptable costs for drugs

Moreover, there is substantial support for government action on drug costs regardless of the respondent’s political affiliation (see Table 2).

DB 141 - NJ Drug Costs Table 2.png

While New Jersey respondents are united in calling for the government to address high drug costs, they also see a role for themselves:

  • 69% would switch from a brand name to an equivalent generic drug if given a chance
  • 54% find, or have tried to find, out the cost of a drug beforehand


The high burden of healthcare and prescription drug affordability, along with high levels of support for change, suggests that elected leaders and other stakeholders need to make addressing this consumer burden a top priority. Moreover, the COVID crisis has led state residents to take a hard look at how well health and public health systems are working for them, with strong support for a wide variety of actions. Annual surveys can help assess whether progress is being made.


1. Median household income in New Jersey was $85,245 (2016-2020). U.S. Census, Quick Facts. Retrieved from: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: New Jersey

2. For more detailed information about healthcare affordability burdens facing New Jersey respondents, please see Healthcare Value Hub, New Jersey Residents Struggle to Afford High Healthcare Costs; Worry About Affording Healthcare in the Future; Support Government Action across Party Lines, Data Brief No. 140


Altarum’s Consumer Healthcare Experience State Survey (CHESS) is designed to elicit respondents’ unbiased views on a wide range of health system issues, including confidence using the health system, financial burden and views on fixes that might be needed.

The survey used a web panel from Dynata with a demographically balanced sample of approximately 1,231 respondents who live in New Jersey. The survey was conducted in English or Spanish and restricted to adults ages 18 and older. Respondents who finished the survey in less than half the median time were excluded from the final sample, leaving 1,139 cases for analysis. After those exclusions, the demographic composition of respondents was as follows, although not all demographic information has complete response rates:

DB 140 - NJ Affordability Demo Table.png