Medicare Part D Decreased Out-of-Pocket Drug Costs in Diabetes

HealthDay News — Medicare Part D has effectively reduced the out-of-pocket cost burden of prescription drugs for beneficiaries with diabetes, according to a study published in Diabetes Care.

Yoon Jeong Choi, from Seoul National University College of Nursing in South Korea, and colleagues used Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data for 2000 to 2011 to examine out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs for 4664 Medicare beneficiaries (aged at least 65 years) vs 2938 younger, non-Medicare adults (aged 50 to 60 years) with diabetes.

The researchers observed an increase in Part D enrollment of Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes from 45.7% in 2006 to 52.4% in 2011. Following Part D implementation, out-of-pocket pharmacy costs decreased by 13.5% for all Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes compared with 2000 to 2005; Part D beneficiaries had 5.3% lower costs, on average, compared with those without Part D. 

For Medicare beneficiaries after Part D, out-of-pocket pharmacy costs decreased by 19.4% compared with a younger group with diabetes. From 2006 to 2011, there was a decrease in the proportion of Part D beneficiaries with diabetes who experienced the coverage gap (60.1% to 40.9%).

“Although Medicare Part D has been effective in reducing the out-of-pocket cost burden of prescription drugs, approximately 2 out of 5 Part D beneficiaries with diabetes experienced the coverage gap in 2011,” the researchers wrote.

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  1. Choi YJ, Jia H, Gross T, Weinger K, Stone PW, Smaldone AM. The impact of Medicare Part D on the proportion of out-of-pocket prescription drug costs among older adults with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2016 Nov 1. doi:10.2337/dc16-0902 [Epub ahead of print].