The price of health: 51% of Russians buy medicine several times a month

Apr 07, 2021

The average Russian family spends RUB 19,500 on medicine a year, according to Sberbank subsidiary Sberbank insurance. It was also found that over half of the respondents (51%) buy pharmaceuticals several times a month and women go to drug stores 50% more often than men.

A survey carried out by Sberbank insurance among the inhabitants of 75 cities with a population of over 250,000 revealed that only seven percent of Russians can claim that they purchase medicine less than once per year. As many as 51% of respondents – 65% of them being women – buy pharmaceuticals several times per month. A quarter of people polled (24%) go to the pharmacy once every few months or so, and another 18% go a few times a year.

The largest number of Russians who purchase medicine several times a month lives in Barnaul, Volgograd, Vologda, Kirov, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saratov, Sevastopol, and Simferopol – 55% each. The inhabitants of Vladikavkaz and Makhachkala buy medicine the least often – nine percent of people in each of these cities go to the pharmacy less than once a year.

The need for medicine predictably rises with age. Among people over the age of 60, 78% buy medicine several times a month, whereas only 33% do so in the 18-30 age group. The frequency of pharmaceutical purchases rises significantly in the over-50 age group: while in the 30-40 age group only 43% of respondents find themselves requiring pills or tablets several times a month, in the 50-60 age group that number rises to 59%.

On average across the country, Russian families spend RUB 19,500 on medicine per year – approximately 1.8% of a household’s income. According to respondents, their expenses on medicine have increased by 36% compared to early last year. This increase is attributable mainly to the fact that the pandemic and the associated heightened attention paid to health matters have prompted people to buy medicine more often.

The vast majority of Russians (over 95% according to the findings of our study) have enough funds to purchase vital medicines. However, when a person falls ill, physicians often prescribe not one drug, but an entire course of treatment, which increases expenses. Situations in which a medication may be too expensive could occur to people of any income group. Sberbank insurance’s new product, Pharm Insurance, will help clients significantly reduce expenses by allowing them to offset a portion of their purchase and receive up to RUB 50,000 in compensation when buying prescription medication. Since the launch of the product, half of the payments made have been compensation for costs related to the purchase of medicines to treat respiratory illnesses.

Katrin Soomre
Director of Protective Insurance Products and Services, Sberbank

Pharm Insurance entitles clients to compensation for 15% to 90% of medicine prices (but no more than RUB 50,000). As long as they have proof that the medication has been prescribed to them by a physician, Sberbank insurance clients can purchase their medicine at the pharmacy of their choice, photograph and send the document and receipt via the SberInspection app, and receive compensation from their insurer. The policy can be taken out via SberBank Online or on the insurance company website.

The survey was carried out in February-March 2021 in 75 Russian cities with a population of over 250,000. In each city, no fewer than 200 people from a representative sample were surveyed.