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Vets Often Forgo Medication When Co-Pays Rise
Date:1/12/2009

Budget-cutters urged to look elsewhere for cost savings,,,,

MONDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- When the co-payment amount for prescription drugs goes up, veterans tend to stop taking needed medications, a new study has found.

Reporting in the Jan 27. issue of the journal Circulation, University of Pennsylvania researchers found that adherence to medication dropped more than 19 percent among veterans who had to make co-payments when that amount was increased in 2002. By comparison, medication adherence dropped by only 12 percent among veterans who were exempt from co-pays.

In addition, the odds of being without medication for more than three months was three times higher during this time among veterans who had to make co-pays than among those exempt from the payments, the study found.

"This decline in adherence was not just a result of short gaps in use interspersed between prescription refills," said Jalpa A. Doshi, a research assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and lead author of the study. "In fact, the co-payment increase was accompanied by a significant increase in the likelihood of having continuous gaps of 90 days or more in lipid-lowering medication use."

The finding is of particular importance today, Doshi indicated, because of efforts being made to save federal dollars.

"In this era of large federal budget deficits, it is clear that there will be ongoing pressure to reduce or at least constrain growth of the VA budget, and one of the approaches that the Congress may take to cut costs is through increases in VA prescription co-payments," Doshi said. The study looked at what happened when co-pay amounts were increased earlier this decade.

In 2002, it found, many veterans went without needed medication after the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) raised co-payments from $2 to $7 for a month's supply of a prescription drug.

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