The Cost of Living

Uninsured stroke survivors unable to afford medication gamble with health

(RxWiki News) Young, uninsured stroke patients and those with only Medicare Part D coverage often cannot afford stroke medications and thus face future stroke and cardiovascular event risks.

A new study from the University of Michigan finds that certain federal programs designed to reduce the number of people who don't take their medications because the medications cost too much, are sometimes failing, putting those patients at risk of stroke and heart attack.

Lead author Dr. Deborah A. Levine, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said Medicare Part D has not resolved the problem it was intended to, which is to prevent enrollees' non-adherence (not-taking) to medication due to cost-related reasons.

Dr. Levine and associates looked at data on 2,656 stroke survivors aged 45 and older and assessed non-adherence to prescriptions for cost-related reasons for a 12 month period. Each patient had participated in the National Health Interview Survey conducted between 2006 and 2009.

According to a separate report of stroke survivors with Medicare Part D coverage: 11 percent (about 150,000 stroke survivors) reported cost-related non-adherence to medications; cost-related non-adherence to medication was twice as high among Medicare Part D participants (12 percent) compared to those without the prescription drug benefit (6 percent); and costs for stroke survivors related to non-adherence spiked from 39 percent in 1998-2002 to 60 percent in 2006-09.

Starting this year, people in the Medicare Part D "donut hole" (coverage gap) will receive 50 percent discounts on covered brand name Part D prescription drugs, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States.

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Review Date: 
February 14, 2011