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BACKGROUND: The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (Medicare Part D) added prescription drug coverage for senior citizens aged 65 years and older and applied managed care approaches to contain costs. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) had the goals of expanding health care insurance coverage and slowing growth in health care expenditures.

OBJECTIVES: To (a) describe the proportion of senior citizens who had prescription drug insurance coverage and the proportion who experienced financial hardship from purchasing medications in 2015, and (b) compare the findings with those collected in 1998 and 2001.

METHODS: Data were obtained in 1998 and 2001 via surveys mailed to national random samples of seniors. Of 2,434 deliverable surveys, 946 (39%) were returned, and 700 (29%) provided usable data. Data were collected in 2015 via an online survey sent to a national sample of adults. Of 26,173 usable responses, 3,933 were aged 65 years or older. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analyses described relationships among study variables.

RESULTS: Results showed that the proportion of seniors without prescription coverage was 9% in 2015, a decrease from 29% in 2001 and 32% in 1998. The proportion of senior citizens reporting financial hardship from medication purchases was 36% in 2015, a rise from 31% in 2001 and 19% in 1998. For those without prescription drug coverage, 34%, 55%, and 49% reported financial hardship in 1998, 2001, and 2015, respectively. For those with drug coverage, 12%, 22%, and 35% reported financial hardship in 1998, 2001, and 2015, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: After implementation of Medicare Part D and the ACA, the proportion of seniors without prescription drug coverage decreased. However, self-reported financial hardship from purchasing medications increased. Senior citizens with prescription drug insurance may be experiencing financial hardship from increasing out-of-pocket costs for insurance premiums, cost sharing, and full-cost obligation for some medications.


This article was originally published in Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy, volume 22, issue 10, in 2016. DOI: 10.18553/jmcp.2016.22.10.1150


Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy



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