Does Medication Adherence Lower Medicare Spending Among Beneficiaries with Diabetes?

This medication adherence study sought to assess whether the use of two classes of drugs that can prevent or delay some complications of diabetes saved Medicare money over three years.

The researchers found that medication possession ratios (MPPs) where .88 for renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibitors and .77 for statins. A ratio of 1.0 would be a perfect adherence to what was prescribed.

Use of both drugs was associated with a net savings to the Medicare program. People with better MPRs had lower spending on Medicare Part A and Part B services. For statin users, a 10 percentage point increase in MPRs was associated with $832 lower in Medicare expenditures. For RAAS inhibitors, a 10 percentage point increase in MPRs was associated with $285 lower in Medicare expenditures. Taking into account the costs of the medications for 30 days,average $80.95 for statins and $30.65 for RAAS inhibitors, the program saved some money over time.

The authors suggest that one way to improve medication adherence—and save Medicare dollars—is through focused diabetes self-management courses. Given that only one-third of this study’s participants had taken such a class, there is clearly room for improvement.

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