Inadequate prescription-drug coverage for Medicare enrollees--a call to action

N Engl J Med. 1999 Mar 4;340(9):722-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199903043400909.


In summary, most low-income elderly and disabled persons lack coverage for important medications, resulting in avoidable deterioration of health among those with chronic illnesses and use of expensive institutional services. Rapidly escalating drug costs, more restrictive drug-coverage policies, and a dramatic increase in the population of elderly and disabled persons will exacerbate these problems. With the current budget surplus, as well as bipartisan concern about health care needs and public concern about drug costs and coverage, it is time to act responsibly and aggressively. We recommend a national replication of the best features of state pharmacy-assistance programs in a federal-state insurance program for low-income Medicare enrollees, either alone or in combination with expanded Medicare coverage. Such a program will reduce the current inequitable situation in which the most vulnerable patients have the least access to medications, with serious medical and economic consequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cost Control
  • Cost Sharing
  • Drug Costs
  • Drug Industry / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Eligibility Determination / standards
  • Formularies as Topic
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage* / organization & administration
  • Insurance Coverage* / statistics & numerical data
  • Insurance, Pharmaceutical Services* / economics
  • Insurance, Pharmaceutical Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • Medicare / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Medicare / organization & administration*
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data
  • United States