Prescription Drugs and the Elderly

Policy Implications of Medicare Coverage

by Jeannette Rogowski, Lee A. Lillard, Raynard Kington

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This research brief describes work documented in "The Financial Burden of Prescription Drug Use Among Elderly Persons," The Gerontologist,Vol. 37, No. 4, 1997, pp. 475-482 and "Insurance Coverage for Prescription Drugs: Effects on Use and Expenditures in the Medicare Population," Medical Care,Vol. 37, No. 9, 1999, pp. 926-936.

Excerpt: Since outpatient prescription drug use is not covered by Medicare, it is a major source of out-of-pocket expenditures for the elderly. By one estimate, severely disabled elderly persons spend more than half their out-of-pocket health expenditures on outpatient prescription drugs. What makes this financial burden all the more daunting is that half the elderly population has no insurance coverage for prescription drugs.

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