The scope of retirees' prescription drug benefits greatly affects their use of essential medications, a study in the American Journal of Managed Care reports.
Researchers found that retirees who paid the lowest out-of-pocket costs -- 0% to 25% of annual medication expenditures -- used vital cardiovascular drugs in the greatest numbers. In addition, the authors found that retirees with moderate drug coverage were significantly less likely to use medications than those with the most comprehensive benefits. Retirees with limited or no employer-sponsored coverage had the lowest use of medications.
The study suggests that enrollment in the Medicare drug benefit would prompt an increase in medication usage only among retirees who do not have employer-sponsored benefits.
Researchers concluded that retirees with comprehensive benefits from an employer might face reduced access to medications if their retiree drug coverage is scaled back (Doshi/Polsky, American Journal of Managed Care, July 2007).