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Am J Manag Care. 2010;16(12):911-8.

Part D coverage gap and adherence to diabetes medications.

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  • 1School of Policy, Planning, and Development, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.



To evaluate the impact of Medicare Part D coverage gap (donut hole) on adherence to diabetes medications.


Retrospective cohort analysis based on pharmacy claims data.


The sample included 12,881 Medicare Part D beneficiaries with diabetes who entered the coverage gap in 2008. Sample patients had 3 different levels of coverage in the donut hole: no coverage, generic drug coverage only, and both generic and brand-name drug coverage. Adherence was measured by the proportion of days covered. We used a difference-in-difference model to evaluate the effect of coverage gap on adherence.


In the donut hole, the average copayment for diabetes medications increased substantially for beneficiaries with no coverage and beneficiaries with generic drug coverage only, whereas the average copayment for beneficiaries with both generic and brand-name medication coverage declined slightly. Compared with beneficiaries with full coverage of both generic and brand-name drugs, beneficiaries with no coverage (odds ratio[OR] = 0.617, P <.0001, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.523, 0.728) and beneficiaries with generic drug coverage only (OR = 0.702, P <.0001, 95% CI = 0.604, 0.816) were significantly less likely to be adherent after entering the donut hole. The difference between having generic coverage and no coverage was not significant (P = .1586).


The coverage gap in the Medicare Part D program has a significant negative impact on medication adherence among beneficiaries with diabetes. Availability of brand-name drug coverage in the donut hole is critical to adherence to diabetes medications.

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