An important aspect of Medicare Part D is access to affordable prescription drug coverage so that beneficiaries can get the medicines they need, take them as directed and avoid costly complications like hospitalizations.
We’ve already looked at research on how access to medicines helps save money for both beneficiaries and taxpayers. For example, a recent study in the Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy looked at seniors living with diabetes. For these individuals, a 1 percent increase in the number of prescriptions filled reduces non-pharmacy medical costs by .83 percent. That’s a savings of approximately $5,170 per year.
Access to comprehensive prescription drug coverage is one part of the story. Beyond that, it is critical for patients to take their medications as prescribed in order to get the full benefit of the medication. This is called adherence. New research published this month in Medical Care examined how adherence impacts medical costs for Medicare Part D beneficiaries with diabetes.
The research found adherence was associated with $4,920 reduction in medical spending, or a $3,945 reduction in total Medicare spending (including drug spending) for high blood pressure treatments and $3,033 reduction for oral antidiabetic drugs. The findings in this study suggest medical savings from adherence in the drug classes examined more than compensate for higher drug spending due to adherence.
Improving medication adherence through programs like medication therapy management and other initiatives is important not only to ensure patient health, but also to help reduce costs in the health care system overall.
Learn more about adherence in our Ask About Adherence Q&A series.
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Allyson Funk Ally is a former senior director of public affairs at PhRMA focused on advocacy issues for the biopharmaceutical industry. Her expertise includes Medicare, Medicaid, 340B, health reform and more. Prior to PhRMA, her experience included leading health communications for a large membership organization, supporting public affairs clients and working for the governor of Louisiana.