Affordable access to medications is important to Medicare enrollees in long-term care (LTC), yet, it is unknown if prescription drug coverage is universal and adequate to meet their high medication needs.
We assessed enrollment in prescription drug coverage, out-of-pocket (OOP) payments and medication use in a nationwide LTC database of prescription-level, resident-level, and facility-level data for the period 2011–2013. Inadequate drug coverage was defined as ≥50% medications paid for OOP. Risk-adjusted generalized estimation equations models were estimated to identify predictors of inadequate drug coverage and total prescription fills.
A nationwide sample of 332,087 Medicare enrollees observed >100 days in LTC.
We found Medicare Part D was the main source of drug coverage (82.4%), followed by private insurance (8.5%), and Veterans Administration (0.2%). No drug coverage could be detected for 8.9% (n=29,378) who paid for all of their medications OOP or received only temporary drug payment assistance. Inadequate drug coverage was identified in another 2721 persons. LTC Medicare enrollees without drug coverage or who had private insurance received significantly fewer prescriptions than if they had been enrolled in Medicare Part D.
A substantial proportion of Medicare enrollees in LTC have inadequate or no drug coverage and are receiving less medication than indicated by their health needs.
Medicare Part D is an important policy for ensuring affordable access to medications in LTC. However, expansions are needed to increase enrollment and decrease inadequate drug coverage.