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Am J Public Health. 2015 Feb;105(2):e17-30. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302240.

Prescription drug insurance coverage and patient health outcomes: a systematic review.

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Aaron S. Kesselheim, Krista F. Huybrechts, Niteesh K. Choudhry, Lisa A. Fulchino, Danielle L. Isaman, and Mary K. Kowal are with the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Troyen A. Brennan is with CVS Caremark, Woonsocket, RI.


Previous reviews have shown that changes in prescription drug insurance benefits can affect medication use and adherence. We conducted a systematic review of the literature to identify studies addressing the association between prescription drug coverage and health outcomes. Studies were included if they collected empirical data on expansions or restrictions of prescription drug coverage and if they reported clinical outcomes. We found 23 studies demonstrating that broader prescription drug insurance reduces use of other health care services and has a positive impact on patient outcomes. Coverage gaps or caps on drug insurance generally led to worse outcomes. States should consider implementing the Affordable Care Act expansions in drug coverage to improve the health of low-income patients receiving state-based health insurance.

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