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Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Creighton University School of Law

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Knowledge Concerning Medicare Part D's Cost Sharing

The Journal of the American Medical Association has posted the results of a recent study concerning the knowledge of Medicare Part D participants about various cost sharing aspects of this program.  The abstract describes the study and the results,

Design, Setting, and Participants Telephone interviews were conducted in 2007 in a stratified random sample of community-dwelling Kaiser Permanente-Northern California Medicare Advantage beneficiaries aged 65 years or older, with a gap in coverage if they exceeded $2250 in drug costs (N = 1040; 74.9% response rate). Half were selected to have reached the gap in 2006. In the source population of Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan beneficiaries, 8% entered the coverage gap in 2006. Models were adjusted for individual characteristics and weighted for sampling proportions.  . . . . .

Results An estimated 40% (95% confidence interval [CI], 35%-45%) of beneficiaries were aware that their drug plan in 2006 included a coverage gap; knowledge of the gap was greater among individuals who reached the gap during the year. Approximately 36% (95% CI, 32%-41%) of beneficiaries reported at least 1 of the following responses to drug costs: cost-coping behavior (26%), reduced adherence (15%), or experiencing financial burden (7%). In multivariate analyses, beneficiaries with lower household income more frequently reported cost responses (difference of 14.5 percentage points for < $40 000/y vs $40 000/y [95% CI, 3.6-25.4 percentage points]). Compared with beneficiaries who were unaware of having a coverage gap, those who were aware more frequently reported any cost response (difference of 11.3 percentage points [95% CI, 0.8-21.9 percentage points]), but had fewer reports of borrowing money or going without necessities (difference of 5.5 percentage points [95% CI, 1.1-10.0 percentage points]). 

Conclusions Beneficiaries in this Medicare Advantage plan have limited knowledge of Part D cost sharing and often report behavioral responses to drug costs. Limited knowledge is associated with fewer reports of cost responses overall, but more reports of financial burden.

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