Chronic Medication Nonadherence and Potentially Preventable Healthcare Utilization and Spending Among Medicare Patients

Improving medication adherence is a potential avenue to reducing preventable utilization and spending among Medicare patients. However, the association between nonadherence to chronic medications and potentially preventable healthcare utilization and spending has been largely unknown by the medical community. In a new Journal of General Internal Medicine study, Dr. Yongkang Zhang, research associate in population health sciences; Dr. Yuhua Bao, associate professor of population health sciences; and affiliate faculty member Dr. James Flory, assistant professor of population health sciences; examined this association among patients who were prescribed diabetic medications, renin-angiotensin system antagonists (RASA) for hypertension, or statins for high cholesterol, and compared the associations by patient race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Among patients with at least one preventable encounter, medication nonadherence was associated with $679–$898 increased preventable spending. They found that the incremental probability of preventable utilization (emergency department visits and hospitalizations) and incremental spending associated with nonadherence were higher among racial/ethnic minority and low socioeconomic groups. In the future, interventions are needed to address these disparities.

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