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Med Care. 2004 Nov;42(11):1056-65.

Prescription drug coverage, health, and medication acquisition among seniors with one or more chronic conditions.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, University of Washington, 98195-4696, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The unabated rise in medication costs particularly affects older persons with chronic conditions that require long-term medication use, but how prescription benefits affect medication adherence for such persons has received limited study.

OBJECTIVE:

We sought to study the relationship among prescription benefit status, health, and medication acquisition in a sample of elderly HMO enrollees with 1 or more common, chronic conditions.

RESEARCH DESIGN:

We implemented a cross-sectional cohort study using primary survey data collected in 2000 and administrative data from the previous 2 years.

SUBJECTS:

Subjects were aged 67 years of age and older, continuously enrolled in a Medicare + Choice program for at least 2 years, and diagnosed with 1 or more of hypertension, diabetes, congestive heart failure, and coronary artery disease (n = 3073).

MEASURES:

Outcomes were the mean daily number of essential therapeutic drug classes and refill adherence.

RESULTS:

In multivariate models, persons without a prescription benefit acquired medications in 0.15 fewer therapeutic classes daily and experienced lower refill adherence (approximately 7 fewer days of necessary medications during the course of 2 years) than those with a prescription benefit. A significant interaction revealed that, among those without a benefit, persons in poor health acquired medications in 0.73 more therapeutic classes daily than persons in excellent health; health status did not significantly influence medication acquisition for those with a benefit.

CONCLUSIONS:

Coverage of prescription drugs is important for improving access to essential medications for persons with the studied chronic conditions. A Medicare drug benefit that provides unimpeded access to medications needed to treat such conditions may improve medication acquisition and, ultimately, health.

PMID:
15586832
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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