Cost-related medication nonadherence (CRN) has been a persistent problem for elderly and disabled Americans. The impact of Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) on CRN is unknown.
To estimate changes in CRN and forgoing basic needs to pay for drugs following Part D implementation.
Design, Setting, and Participants
In a population-level design, we compared changes in study outcomes from 2005 to 2006, before and after Part D, to historical changes from 2004 to 2005. We used the community-dwelling sample of the nationally representative Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (unweighted unique n=24,234, response rate =72.3%) Logistic regression analyses controlled for demographic characteristics, health status, and historical trends.
Main Outcome Measures
Self-reports of cost-related nonadherence (skipping or reducing doses, not obtaining prescriptions) and spending less on basic needs in order to afford medicines.
The unadjusted, weighted prevalence of CRN was 15.2% in 2004, 14.1% in 2005, and 11.5% after Part D in 2006; the prevalence of spending less on basic needs was 10.6% in 2004, 11.1% in 2005, and 7.6% in 2006. Adjusted analyses comparing 2006 to 2005, controlling for historical changes (2005 versus 2004), demonstrated significant decreases in the odds of CRN (OR ratio, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.74–0.98; P = .03) and spending less on basic needs (OR ratio, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.48–0.72; P < .000). No significant changes in CRN were observed among beneficiaries with fair-to-poor health (OR ratio, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.82–1.21; P = .97), despite high baseline CRN prevalence for this group (22.2% in 2005) and significant decreases among those with good-to-excellent health (OR ratio, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.63–0.95; P = .02). However, we did detect significant reductions in spending less on basic needs in both groups (OR ratio, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.47–0.75; P < .000, for fair-to-poor health; OR ratio, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.44–0.75; P < .000 for good-to-excellent health).
In this survey population, there was evidence for a small but significant overall decrease in cost-related nonadherence and forgoing basic needs following Part D implementation. However, we detected no net decrease in CRN after Part D among the sickest beneficiaries, who continued to experience higher rates of CRN.