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General Health Channel
Reported January 15, 2007

Prescription Plan Costs Vary From State to State

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- As Congress debates changes to the Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, a new study reveals the costs to seniors varies widely from state to state. Researchers reports the highest costs for the same drugs often occur in the lowest-income, lowest-cost of living areas.

Medicare Part D has helped many seniors who previously had no prescription coverage get coverage. However, what the coverage plans cover is not the same state to state. Investigators from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor compared the costs of prescriptions and the actual plan for four different real patients with typical ailments and conditions across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

For example, researchers report a 78-year-old woman needing drugs for osteoporosis, high blood pressure and chronic pain would pay $4,113 out of pocket each year for her medications in Michigan, while the same drugs on the same chosen plan in Ohio would cost her $16,856 a year.

The same patient would also pay different amounts depending on which plan she chose to be part of. For example, the highest-cost plan in Michigan would cost $13,806 more per year than the least-expensive plan. The difference in the costs of the highest and lowest level plans in Ohio is only $1,079.

Study authors also assessed the affordability of the lowest-cost Part D plans for all four patients across the country. They found the expected costs of prescription drugs were higher in states with a lower average income. For example, a heart attack survivor in Florida would pay $2,348, while in Georgia the same plan would cost $140 more. Florida has a much higher income level than Georgia, so the researchers report those with lower incomes are asked to pay more for the same plan.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, which offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, click on: /newsalert/.

SOURCE: Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2007;22

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