Blacks, Hispanics Less Likely Eligible for Medicare Prescription Help

May 21, 2010 By Katherine Kahn, Health Behavior News Service

Medicare’s Part D prescription medication management program, also known as Medication Therapy Management, could be off limits to some of the patients who need it most — older African-Americans and Hispanics — a new study finds.

Medicare introduced the program, Medication Therapy Management or MTM, in 2006 as part of the Part D prescription drug program. MTM provides face-to-face counseling, phone consultation or consultations by mail with pharmacists or other care providers to help people with chronic illness resolve problems with taking medications. The goal is to improve patient health, reduce costs and minimize side effects.

In 2010, to be eligible for the program, a person must be enrolled in the drug program, have at least three , take eight or more medications covered by Part D and spend at least $3,000 yearly on the medications.

Researchers led by Junling Wang, Ph.D., at the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy looked at data to see whether African-Americans, Hispanics or whites equally would be apt to meet these eligibility criteria.

“We suspected there might be potential problems related to eligibility criteria for minorities since historically racial and ethnic minorities tend to use fewer medications and they tend to incur lower prescription drug costs,” Wang said. This is despite the fact that minority groups are at higher risk than whites for developing many serious , such as diabetes and heart disease.

The study appears online in the journal Health Services Research.

The researchers found that African-Americans would be up to 34 percent less likely to meet MTM eligibility than whites and that Hispanics would be up to 38 percent less prone to meet eligibility requirements. This pattern held even in those patients with severe health problems.

The findings are important, Wang said, because other health agencies and private insurers often adopt Medicare policies. She also said that recent changes in policies to improve health care quality have not been very effective in reducing racial and ethnic disparities.

“In fact, sometimes these policies have really widened the disparity gap. Minorities historically have different patterns of medication utilization from the majority population. If we don’t take those differences into consideration, minorities will lag behind,” she said.

“You have to be on a lot of drugs or some pretty expensive medications to qualify for MTM services,” said Marissa Schlaifer, pharmacy affairs director at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. “This study does remind us that those people who are not on medications they need are less likely to qualify for MTM services,” because the determining factors are being on multiple drugs and having high drug costs. “People who aren’t getting the drugs they need are just as much in need of MTM services as people who are getting too many drugs.”

More information: Wang J, et al. Disparity implications of Medicare eligibility criteria for Medication Therapy Management services. Health Services Research online, 2010.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.