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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Financial Burden of Prescription Drugs among Older Americans

Author: K. TOM XU and TYRONE F. BORDERS
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 30 No. 1

This study examines racial and ethnic disparities in the
financial burden of prescription drugs among older Americans using a
market and an egalitarian model. A nationally representative data set,
the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey 2002, was used. The financial
burden of prescription drugs was measured by the out-of-pocket
expenditure and proportion. In the market model (utilization
adjustment)., utilization was measured at the annual aggregate level by
the total number of prescription drugs, the average refills and the
average quantity per prescription drug. In the egalitarian model (need
adjustment)., health was measured by 15 chronic and costly diseases
and the SF-12. Individuals 65 years or older were included. Nationally
representative estimates were calculated. Raw racial and ethnic
disparities were observed in the bivariate analyses between non-
Hispanic whites and Hispanics in the out-of-pocket expenditure and
proportion, and between non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks
in the out-of-pocket proportion. However, these disparities disappeared
after controlling for utilization or health needs. Insurance status
contributed the most to the disparities in the financial burden of
prescription drugs. In conclusion, The disparities in the financial
burden of prescription drugs between non-Hispanic elderly whites and
Hispanics may be attributable to differences in utilization patterns.
However, whether health disparities contribute to disparities in the
financial burden of prescription drugs requires studies of specific
diseases.

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