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Unequal Access: African-American Medicare Beneficiaries and the Prescription Drug Gap

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Publication Date: July 2003

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Marie C. Reed; J. Lee Hargraves; Alwyn Cassil

Series: Issue Brief No. 64

Topic: Health (Health services for older people)

Type: Brief


African-American Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older are more than twice as likely as elderly white beneficiaries to report they could not afford to fill at least one prescription in the last year, according to a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). Older African-American beneficiaries are much more likely to be poor and to lack supplemental insurance. They also are more likely to live with certain chronic conditions—heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes— that generally require prescription drug treatment. As policy makers debate how to structure a Medicare drug benefit, designing a comprehensive benefit with minimal out-of-pocket costs for low-income elderly Americans could substantially narrow the prescription drug gap between black and white seniors.