Medicare Drug Benefit
Elderly Medicare beneficiaries who purchase drug coverage generally have higher drug expenditures, according to a study in Health Services Research.
The researchers found that drug use among people with drug coverage was 4.5% higher than among those without coverage. In addition, drug coverage led to an increase in drug expenditures of $308 among those who used prescription drugs.
According to the study, the increase in drug spending could have resulted from a demand for more prescriptions and/or more expensive drugs used by beneficiaries with drug coverage.
The authors recommended that the federal government improve the Medicare drug benefit structure to reduce financial barriers to necessary medications (Huh et al., Health Services Research, June 2008).