Report to the President: Prescription Drug Coverage, Spending, Utilization, and Prices.. Comparisons of Utilization and Spending

04/01/2000

This section will present, for Medicare beneficiaries and for the non-Medicare population, comparisons of utilization by covered and noncovered people grouped by various demographic and health characteristics. Unless otherwise noted, all results reported in this chapter are statistically significant at the 0.05 level, based on a two-tailed test. See the Introduction of this report for details.

The comparisons here are limited to simple descriptive tables, primarily focusing on the ratio between people with and without drug coverage. It is important to note that these descriptive comparisons, which look at one factor at a time, may not isolate the key determinants of drug spending. Multivariate analysis would be needed to establish which factors are most important in explaining differences between the covered and noncovered populations.

Most of the estimates provided in this chapter are drawn from Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) and Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data on prescription drugs. It should be noted that over-the-counter drugs are not included here. Drugs that are available both over-the-counter and in prescription strength are included if the drug was obtained in prescription strength.

MCBS and MEPS use different methods to gather data on utilization and spending. However, both find the same patterns in utilization and spending for people with and without coverage. Their estimates of the magnitude of the gaps between the covered and uncovered are sometimes different, though rarely contradictory. A detailed summary of the survey methods and of the differences in results is provided in appendix B.

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