Prescription drug coverage and seniors: how well are states closing the gap

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Aged; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (U.S.); Data Collection; Drug Costs; Drug Utilization Review; Financing, Personal; Health Policy; Humans; *Insurance Coverage; Insurance, Pharmaceutical Services; Medicaid; Medically Underserved Area; Patient Compliance; Poverty; State Health Plans; numerical data; United States


Geriatrics | Health Policy | Health Services Administration


As policymakers debate adding a drug benefit to Medicare, many states are attempting to provide drug coverage for low-income seniors through Medicaid and state-funded pharmacy assistance programs. This 2001 survey of seniors in eight states finds marked differences among states in the percentage of seniors with coverage and in the sources providing coverage. Among low-income seniors, a range of 20 percent (New York and California) to 38 percent (Michigan and Texas) lacked drug coverage. In all states Medicaid was an important source of coverage for the poor, but the depth of Medicaid drug coverage varied widely across states. Even states with pharmacy assistance programs fell far short of closing the prescription coverage gap for low-income seniors. Finally, the study finds that classifying beneficiaries as either having coverage or not misses major differences in depth of coverage, with some sources of coverage appearing only marginally better than no coverage at all. With erosion of state and private sources of prescription benefits expected, the findings speak to the need for a national policy solution.

DOI of Published Version



Safran DG, Neuman P, Schoen C, Montgomery JE, Li W, Wilson IB, Kitchman MS, Bowen AE, Rogers WH. Prescription drug coverage and seniors: how well are states closing the gap? Health Aff (Millwood). 2002 Jul-Dec;Suppl Web Exclusives:W253-68. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.w2.253

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Health affairs (Project Hope)


At the time of publication, Wenjun Li was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID