UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Aged; Asthma; Chronic Disease; Cross-Sectional Studies; Diabetes Mellitus; *Drug Utilization Review; Fee-for-Service Plans; Female; Heart Failure, Congestive; Humans; Independent Practice Associations; Insurance Claim Review; Logistic Models; Male; Managed Care Programs; Middle Aged; Physician's Practice Patterns; United States


Preventive Medicine


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the impact of managed care on the use of chronic disease medications.

DATA SOURCE: Claims data from 1997 from two indemnity and three independent practice association (IPA) model managed care insurance plans.

RESEARCH DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of claims data.

DATA COLLECTION: Adult patients with diabetes mellitus (DM, n = 26,444), congestive heart failure (CHF, n = 7,978), and asthma (n = 9,850) were identified by ICD-9 codes. Chronic disease medication use was defined through pharmacy claims for patients receiving one or more prescriptions for drugs used in treating these conditions. Using multiple logistic regression we adjusted for patient case mix and the number of primary care visits.

PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: With few exceptions, managed care patients were more likely to use chronic disease medications than indemnity patients. In DM, managed care patients were more likely to use sulfonylureas (43 percent versus 39 percent for indemnity), metformin (26 percent versus 18 percent), and troglitazone (8.8 percent versus 6.4 percent), but not insulin. For CHF patients, managed care patients were more likely to use loop diuretics (45 percent versus 41 percent), ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (50 percent versus 41 percent), and beta-blockers (23 percent versus 16 percent), but we found no differences in digoxin use. In asthma, managed care patients were more likely to use inhaled corticosteroids (34 percent versus 30 percent), systemic corticosteroids (18 percent versus 16 percent), short-acting beta-agonists (42 percent versus 33 percent), long-acting beta-agonists (9.9 percent versus 8.6 percent), and leukotriene modifiers (5.4 percent versus 4.1 percent), but not cromolyn or methylxanthines. Statistically significant differences remained after multivariate analysis that controlled for age, gender, and severity.

CONCLUSIONS: Chronic disease patients in these managed care plans are more likely to receive both inexpensive and expensive medications. Exceptions included older medications partly supplanted by newer therapies. Differences may be explained by the fact that patients in indemnity plans face higher out-of-pocket costs and managed care plans promote more aggressive medication use. The relatively low likelihood of condition-specific medications in both plan types is a matter of concern, however.

DOI of Published Version



Health Serv Res. 2003 Apr;38(2):595-612.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Health services research

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Link to article in PubMed

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