Policy Changes Have Reduced Cost-Related Medication Nonadherence

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Elizabeth Geneva Wood, MHPA Department of Health Policy and Administration College of Nursing Washington State University Spokane

Ellizabeth Wood

Elizabeth Geneva Wood, MHPA
Department of Health Policy and Administration
College of Nursing
Washington State University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Many people don’t fill prescriptions because they can’t afford them, which is risky for their health. The problem of cost-related nonadherence to prescriptions (CRN) was increasing in prevalence over time until several major policy changes in the 2000s that were intended to help prescription affordability and/or access to health insurance. We observed that each of these major policy changes corresponded with a decrease in CRN among the policy’s target population.

For seniors, CRN dropped in 2006, when Medicare Part D came into effect. For younger adults (19-25), CRN dropped in 2010, when the Affordable Care Act began allowing them to stay on their parents’ insurance. Cost-related nonadherence rates also dropped for all non-elderly adults (including the younger ones) in 2014 and 2015, when the Medicaid expansion and the introduction of the health insurance marketplaces offered coverage to many previously-uninsured adults.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Policy changes seem to be able to help people afford their medications.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: This study used a national sample, which meant we couldn’t compare these rates to what would have happened if these policy changes hadn’t happened. It would be interesting to find counterfactuals in future research: like seeing how  Cost-related nonadherence rates changed post-reform in states that expanded Medicaid vs. those that did not.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We still have a long way to go – there are still millions of Americans post-reform reporting that they aren’t filling their prescriptions because they can’t afford it. Although ensuring that people have health insurance would help greatly, I think providers and patients should also talk to each other about whether the cost of medication is going to be barrier to treatment adherence.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.


Jae Kennedy and Elizabeth Geneva Wood. (2016). Medication Costs and Adherence of Treatment Before and After the Affordable Care Act: 1999–2015. American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print.
doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303269

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on August 29, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD