Effects of Medicare Part D coverage gap on medication adherence.
Am J Manag Care. 2013 Jun;19(6):e214-24
Authors: Zhang Y, Baik SH, Lave JR
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effects of the Medicare Part D coverage gap on pharmacy use among a national sample of Medicare beneficiaries and on medication adherence among 2 subsamples with heart failure and/or diabetes.
STUDY DESIGN: Pre-post design, with comparison group and propensity score weighting.
METHODS: We used a 5% random sample of elderly Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in stand-alone Part D plans in 2007. The comparison group had full coverage in the gap, whereas the 2 study groups had either no coverage or generic-only coverage in the gap. Main outcomes included probability of filling a prescription, monthly pharmacy spending and number of prescriptions filled, and adherence measured by medication possession ratios.
RESULTS: Relative to the comparison group, beneficiaries without drug coverage in the gap reduced the number of prescriptions filled per month by 16.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 15.5%-16.5%); those with generic drug coverage in the gap reduced it by 10.8% (95% CI, 10.3%-11.4%). Most of the reduction was attributable to reduced use of brand-name drugs. Beneficiaries with heart failure reduced adherence to heart failure drugs by 3.6% (95% CI, 2.9%-4.2%) and beneficiaries with diabetes reduced antidiabetic medication adherence by 10.3% (95% CI, 9.4%-11.3%).
CONCLUSIONS: Medicare beneficiaries reduced medication use (mainly brand-name drugs) after entering the coverage gap. This result suggests that while beneficiaries' financial burden would continue because of the coverage gap, the gap would not result in a large reduction in medication adherence for essential drugs for diabetes and heart failure.
PMID: 23844750 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]