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Effect of Out-of-Pocket Cost on Medication Initiation, Adherence, and Persistence among Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: The Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE)

To estimate the effect of out-of-pocket (OOP) cost on nonadherence to classes of cardiometabolic medications among patients with diabetes. Electronic health records from a large, health care delivery system for 223,730 patients with diabetes prescribed 842,899 new cardiometabolic medications during 2006-2012. Observational, new prescription cohort study of the effect of OOP cost on medication initiation and adherence. Adherence and OOP costs were based on pharmacy dispensing records and benefits. Primary nonadherence (never dispensed) increased monotonically with OOP cost after adjusting for demographics, neighborhood socioeconomic status, Medicare, medical financial assistance, OOP maximum, deductibles, mail order pharmacy incentive and use, drug type, generic or brand, day’s supply, and comorbidity index; 7 percent were never dispensed the new medication when OOP cost ≥$11, 5 percent with OOP cost of $1-$10, and 3 percent when the medication was free of charge (p < .0001). Higher OOP cost was also strongly associated with inadequate secondary adherence (≥20 percent of time without adequate medication). There was no clinically significant or consistent relationship between OOP costs and early nonpersistence (dispensed once, never refilled) or later stage nonpersistence (discontinued within 24 months). Cost-sharing may deter clinically vulnerable patients from initiating essential medications, undermining adherence and risk factor control.

Authors: Karter AJ; Parker MM; Solomon MD; Lyles CR; Adams AS; Moffet HH; Reed ME

Health Serv Res. 2018 04;53(2):1227-1247. Epub 2017-05-05.

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