Navigation Links
Study finds drug spending caps cause some seniors to quit taking key medicines

Many seniors quit taking drugs for chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure when they exceed their drug plans yearly spending limits, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

Even when drug benefits resume at the start of a new health plan year, a significant number of seniors do not resume their prescription medications, according to the findings published in the September/October edition of the journal Health Affairs.

The study, which examined the behavior of seniors enrolled in a national private health plan, provides insight into how seniors may act under provisions of Medicares new drug benefit plan that will leave about one-third of enrollees without drug coverage for some part of each benefit year.

Prescription use falls significantly as patients reach their benefit caps, said Geoffrey Joyce, the studys lead author and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. Most of the drugs we studied help prevent long-term complications of chronic disease so there are likely to be adverse health consequences for seniors who hit their caps.

RAND Health researchers studied prescription drug use from 2003 to 2005 among more than 60,000 people enrolled in a health plan offered to retirees by a large national employer. Enrollees had a choice of two drug plans that offered annual drug benefit caps of $1,000 or $2,500 and one drug plan that had no spending limit. Participants had to pay a portion of individual drug purchases in each of the plans.

The study examined enrollees use of drugs used to treat high blood pressure, drugs that target cardiac problems, diabetes drugs, ulcer treatments and antidepressants. They also studied prescription pain medications that have over-the-counter substitutes.

About 6 percent to 13 percent of the people enrolled in drug plans with caps reached their spending limits in each of the years studied, with about half the affected enrollees going without benefits for more than 90 days, according to the study.

High spenders in the capped plans were more likely to discontinue use of their medications than people enrolled in the plan with no spending limits, according to researchers. Discontinuation rates differed by type of drug, ranging from 15 percent for anti-cholesterol medication to 28 percent for cardiac drugs. Rates were higher for pain medications and anti-ulcer drugs where over-the-counter alternatives were available.

Researchers say they were surprised that more people did not switch to generic drugs, given they are generally cheaper than name-brand medications. While people were less likely to quit using generic drugs once they reached benefit caps, no widespread move to the lower-cost alternatives was noted.

Among patients who stopped taking a medication in the capped plan, more than half did not restart their prescriptions during the first three months after benefits resumed.

Given the importance of these drugs, its distressing that the resumption rates are not higher, said Dana Goldman, the studys senior author and director of health economics at RAND. Drug caps are a cost-saving measure, but our findings raise the issue of whether in the long run they may lead to other medical costs such as increased hospitalizations.

Researchers said the study may help guide policymakers who are concerned with the so-called doughnut hole in Medicare prescription drug plans. Spending limits contained in the Medicare drug plan are expected to leave between 24 percent and 38 percent of enrollees without drug coverage for part of each benefit year.

Caps on prescription drug spending are not a prudent way to restrict costs, Joyce said. Cycling in and out of coverage is likely to have adverse health effects over time.


Contact: Warren Robak
RAND Corporation

Related medicine news :

1. Rural Canadians travel far for specialists: study
2. A new study surpasses Gene Therapy Hurdle
3. Tomato Sauce reduces Cancer Risk- Study
4. A question on study of Adult Stem Cell
5. Study on obesity and heart failure
6. National Lung Study in the process
7. Marijuana gateway theory strengthened by study of twins
8. Old theory of adaptation confirmed by new study
9. Study casts doubt on keyboard ills
10. Gene study links endometriosis, infertility
11. Study reveals how stress can make you sick
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/12/2015)... Grove Village, IL, USA (PRWEB) , ... October ... ... solutions and high-fidelity personal audio products, will present the latest version of Companion ... insert earphones for audiometry, at the European Union of Hearing Aid Acousticians’ (EUHA) ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... ... October 12, 2015 , ... FEI Behavioral Health, ... from EAP to crisis management, will present a session at the Wisconsin Society ... 14-16, 2015. , FEI’s Chief Operating Officer Daniel Potterton will present an informative ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... FL (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2015 , ... ... Awareness Month, IQ Formulations today announced its charitable donation to the National Breast ... inspiring hope in those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education, and ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... ... October 12, 2015 , ... SQM Group is proud ... contact channel benchmarking study. Be a part of this insightful and leading-edge ... customer experience, customer journey, contact channel execution and intelligence, workforce optimization, and tools ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... ... October 12, 2015 , ... Holcomb – Kreithen Plastic ... in Florida, announced today that it will host “Plastic Surgery University,” an educational series ... Town Center (“UTC Mall”) in Sarasota, FL on Saturday, October 24, 2015. , ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2015)... Leadership of the National Association of Vision Care ... Aspasia Shappet , CEO of MESVision resumed her role as ... at its annual strategic planning meeting in Chicago ... the organization from May 2013 to May of this year. ... a result of the increased demands of his recent appointment ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... , Oct. 12, 2015 A new computer ... children can predict whether they will develop effective language ... to a study in the journal Brain and ... --> In the journal,s Oct. 12 online edition, ... computer program determines how specific regions of the brain ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... ) ... "Personalized Medicine, Targeted Therapeutics and Companion Diagnostic ... Industry Trends, Technologies, Participants, and Environment" ... ) has announced the addition of ... Companion Diagnostic Market to 2019 - Strategic ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: