• Journal Article

Outpatient prescription drug utilization and expenditure patterns of noninstitutionalized aged Medicare beneficiaries

Citation

Lavange, L., & Silverman, H. A. (1987). Outpatient prescription drug utilization and expenditure patterns of noninstitutionalized aged Medicare beneficiaries. National Medical Care Utilization and Expenditure Survey (Series). Series B, Descriptive report, (12), 1-43.

Abstract

The goal of the National Medical Care Utilization and Expenditure Survey (NMCUES) of 1980 was to improve the understanding of the ways in which Americans use and pay for health care. This report is one in a series of descriptive reports based on NMCUES data. This report provides data regarding prescription drugs obtained on an outpatient basis by noninstitutionalized elderly people who reported being covered by Medicare in 1980. The results presented are based on NMCUES data collected about the civilian noninstitutionalized persons in the NMCUES national household sample who at any time during the survey year of 1980: (1) were 65 years of age or over, and (2) reported having been covered by Medicare hospital insurance (HI) or Medicare supplementary medical insurance (SMI) or both. These results include the number of prescriptions obtained during the survey year, the total charges for these prescriptions, the amounts paid by various sources, and the types of drugs obtained. Noninstitutionalized aged Medicare beneficiaries obtained an estimated 288 million prescriptions during 1980 and spent an estimated $2.3 billion for prescription drugs. Four of five beneficiaries used prescription drugs during the year. Although aged Medicare beneficiaries represented only 10.9 percent of the U.S. population during 1980, they accounted for 28.6 percent of all prescriptions and 30.2 percent of total prescription drug charges. The average aged beneficiary during the year purchased 12.1 prescriptions and incurred $98 of expenditures, about three times the average of those under 65 years of age. The average charge per prescription was $8.05. Prescription drug charges accounted for 5.5 percent of an estimated $42 billion spent by aged Medicare beneficiaries for health care during 1980, excluding charges for institutional care. Prescription drug use and expenditures were lower among people 65-69 years of age than among people 70-74 or 75-79 years of age. On average, women used more prescriptions and incurred higher charges than did men. Regionally, the average number of prescriptions that were filled per beneficiary was highest in the South and lowest in the West. People who perceived their health status to be poor had approximately four times as many prescriptions filled per person and incurred four times the average annual charge of people who perceived their health status to be excellent. Approximately 68 percent of the total dollars spent by aged Medicare beneficiaries for prescription drugs was paid out-of-pocket, 13.9 percent was paid by private health insurance, and 10.8 percent was paid by Medicaid. The remaining charges were distributed among other payers.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)