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Journal Article


Does Medication Adherence Lower Medicare Spending Among Beneficiaries with Diabetes?

The Issue

Research has shown that certain prescription medications—specifically, statins and rennin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibitors—can help elderly diabetic patients by preventing or delaying certain complications. In addition to improving clinical outcomes, better adherence to these medications can also reduce medical costs.

What the Study Found

With support from The Commonwealth Fund, researchers used data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey to look at medication adherence rates and Medicare expenses over three years for beneficiaries who filled prescriptions for RAAS inhibitors and statins. For patients using RAAS inhibitors, a 10-percentage-point increase in medication possession ratio (MPR)—a measure of medication adherence—was associated with a spending reduction of $285. A 10-percentage-point increase in MPR for statin users was associated with a spending reduction of $832. To put these numbers in context, the researchers estimate that the cost of the drugs, for the same period, would be $110.45 for RAAS inhibitors and $291.44 for statins.


"At the margin, utilization of both drugs was associated with net savings to the Medicare program," the authors conclude.

Publication Details



B. Stuart, A. Davidoff, R. Lopert et al., "Does Medication Adherence Lower Medicare Spending Among Beneficiaries with Diabetes?" Health Services Research, published online March 17, 2011.