In a recent study “Medicare Part D and its Effect on the Use of Prescription Drugs, Use of Other Health Care Services and Health of the Elderly” (NBER Working Paper No. 16011), Robert Kaestner and Nasreen Khan estimated the impact of prescription drug insurance through Part D on the use of drugs, other medical services, and individual health. They found that prescription drug use increased 60% with no improvement in health.
The authors find little evidence that the large increase in prescription drug use created by the passage of Part D was associated with any change in outpatient service use, hospitalization, functional health, or general health status for most of those affected. They conclude that “much of the additional use of prescription drugs that results from gaining prescription drug insurance is [of ] relatively low value in terms of health benefits,” although they cannot conclusively rule out small improvements.
This also seems to support the notion that prescription drugs provide little value and that other approaches to health such as diet, exercise, environment, and advanced nutrition are underutilized.