Medicare Part D and Its Impact on Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Access to Prescription Medications

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by Elham Mahmoudi, Wayne State University

Medicare Part D, implemented in January 2006, is the most extensive addition to Medicare since 1965. Health insurance is known to be one of the main contributing factors in existing disparities between Whites and minority groups in access to healthcare in general. It is important to evaluate the impact of Medicare Part D on racial/ethnic disparities in access to prescription medications among seniors. This dissertation seeks to answer four questions: (1) Has Medicare Part D increased access to prescription drugs within different racial/ethnic groups, and if so, by how much? (2) Has Medicare Part D reduced racial/ethnic disparities in access to prescription drugs? (3) Has Medicare Part D reduced disparities in out-of-pocket and total spending on prescription drugs, and in out-of-pocket and total healthcare spending? And (4) Do the answers to these questions vary when different definitions for a “disparity” are used, and if so, how? This project relates to three of the fellowship program’s priority areas.

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