Medicare Issues

Effects of Medicare Adding Prescription Coverage
Oct. 4, 1999 (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- If Medicare would start covering prescription drugs, older Americans who don't currently have insurance covering prescriptions would be almost nine percent more likely to use prescription drugs. This would amount to an overall increase of 13 percent in spending for prescription medications. These were some of the findings from a study estimating how insurance coverage affects the demand for prescription drugs. The study appears in the September issue of Medical Care.
Researchers from several institutions, including the University of Michigan, collaborated on the study, which was funded by the National Institute on Aging. The study involved a sample of more than 900 people 66 years of age and older. Among participants, 85 percent used some prescription drugs during the 12 months before they were surveyed. Eighty percent had private insurance in addition to Medicare, but only 38 percent had private insurance that covered prescriptions. Overall, those who had insurance covering prescriptions were more likely to use prescription drugs.
The researchers found expanding Medicare benefits to include prescription drugs would increase the likelihood that elderly people would use those drugs. Based on their findings, they believe that while prescription drugs are an important part of medical treatment, for many older people, they are an unaffordable, out-of-pocket expense.
Source: University of Michigan
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