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Medication costs may lead to higher ER use

June 4, 2013
by Pamela Tabar, Senior Editor
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Disabled Medicare beneficiaries who struggle to afford their medications are more likely to visit the emergency room (ER), according to a study published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Of the 7,177 beneficiaries surveyed, 8.2 percent reported having “severe cost-related medication nonadherence,” while another 7.5 percent reported “mild” difficulty paying for their prescribed medications. Researchers then tallied the number of ER visits within each category.

The study showed a relationship between medication cost issues and ER visits. But Medicare seniors, often identified as overusers ER resources, were not the highest ER-using group. Those most likely to end up in an ER because of cost-related medication noncompliance are disabled Medicare beneficiaries under age 65.