Patients often discontinue Taking Heart Drugs during Medicare Coverage Gaps

Patients who paid for heart medications exclusively through Medicare Plan were 57 percent more likely to not take them during coverage gaps in contrast to those who had a Part D low-income subsidy or additional insurance, as per a research published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal. Neither group was probable to switch to other drugs during coverage gaps.

Instead of persuading patients to switch to lower-cost alternatives, the researchers found that sudden exposure to 100 percent of drug costs in the Part D coverage gap led to sudden discontinuation of essential cardiovascular medications. Jennifer M. Polinski, Sc.D., M.P.H., study lead author and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass holds that any drug insurance policy that adversely influences necessary cardiovascular drug use needs to be modified.

Heart and blood vessel, or cardiovascular disease, is the leading cause of death in the United States. The risk of disease increases with age, but complications often can be avoided with medication and lifestyle changes.

During the study, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, known as Part D, stopped paying for medicine when spending reached a certain amount. Payments resumed when patients’ out-of-pocket reached qualifying levels or the benefit restarted in the next calendar year, but long-term effects of the coverage gap, or “donut hole,” on drug compliance and health are unclear.

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