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NEJM study addresses impact of Medicare Part D on medical spending
Date:7/5/2009

PITTSBURGH, July 1 After enrolling in Medicare Part D, seniors who previously had limited or no drug coverage spent more on prescriptions and less on other medical care services such as hospitalizations and visits to the doctor's office, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health study. Published in the July 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the study also found that seniors who had relatively good drug benefits prior to enrolling in Medicare Part D spent somewhat more on prescriptions and, at the same time, increased their spending on other medical care services.

"We found that Part D led to increases in overall pharmacy spending among all beneficiaries," said the study's lead author, Yuting Zhang, Ph.D., assistant professor of health economics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. "These increases were offset by decreases in spending on other medical care services in those with little or no drug coverage before they enrolled in Medicare Part D, which was one-third of the beneficiary population studied. The majority of Part D enrollees in our study population―those with relatively good prior prescription coverage―spent more on prescriptions as well as other medical services."

The purpose of Medicare Part D, which took effect in January 2006, is to subsidize the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries, more than 30 percent of whom had limited or no coverage for prescription drugs prior to its implementation.

Dr. Zhang and her colleagues compared prescription drug use and other medical spending among three groups of senior citizens two years before and after Part D was implemented. The groups included beneficiaries with no prior drug coverage, poor prior drug coverage ($600 maximum per year) and relatively good prior drug coverage ($1,400 maximum per year, comparable to Part D). They found that total monthly prescription dru
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Contact: Clare Collins
CollCX@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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