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Providing Prescription Drug Coverage to the Elderly: America's Experiment with Medicare Part D

Author

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  • Mark Duggan
  • Patrick Healy
  • Fiona Scott Morton

Abstract

The federal government's Medicare program did not provide general prescription drug coverage for the first 40 years of its existence. Thus, more than 30 percent of the 44 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries of the program lacked insurance coverage for prescribed medications. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 established a voluntary outpatient prescription drug benefit known as Medicare Part D. This program took effect in 2006 and represents the largest expansion of an entitlement program since the start of Medicare itself. The design of Part D is of particular interest to economists for at least three reasons: First, the program has the potential to affect significantly both the health and the economic well-being of the more than 44 million individuals currently enrolled in Medicare. Second, Part D has substantially increased government spending on health care despite the projections that such spending was already on an unsustainable path. Third, Part D represents an ambitious attempt to use market mechanisms in the delivery of a large-scale entitlement program. Part D has been controversial. In this paper, we aim to shed light on the various issues raised by the Part D program, including the incentives inherent in the competition among plans, the forces that affect drug prices, and the sustainability of Part D in the face of adverse selection and moral hazard. We conclude that Part D has succeeded in a number of important ways, however, substantial room for improvement remains.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Duggan & Patrick Healy & Fiona Scott Morton, 2008. "Providing Prescription Drug Coverage to the Elderly: America's Experiment with Medicare Part D," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(4), pages 69-92, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:22:y:2008:i:4:p:69-92
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.22.4.69
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.22.4.69
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mark Duggan & Fiona Scott Morton, 2010. "The Effect of Medicare Part D on Pharmaceutical Prices and Utilization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 590-607, March.
    2. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2010. "Why Does the Law of One Price Fail? An Experiment on Index Mutual Funds," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 1405-1432, April.
    3. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2005. "Consumption versus Expenditure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 919-948, October.
    4. Amitabh Chandra & Jonathan Gruber & Robin McKnight, 2007. "Patient Cost-Sharing, Hospitalization Offsets, and the Design of Optimal Health Insurance for the Elderly," NBER Working Papers 12972, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Alan T. Sorensen, 2000. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion in Retail Markets for Prescription Drugs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 833-862, August.
    6. Mark Duggan & Fiona M. Scott Morton, 2006. "The Distortionary Effects of Government Procurement: Evidence from Medicaid Prescription Drug Purchasing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 1-30.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Vetter, Stefan & Heiss, Florian & McFadden, Daniel & Winter, Joachim, 2013. "Risk attitudes and Medicare Part D enrollment decisions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 119(2), pages 128-132.
    2. Blume-Kohout, Margaret E. & Sood, Neeraj, 2013. "Market size and innovation: Effects of Medicare Part D on pharmaceutical research and development," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 327-336.
    3. Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter & Amelie Wuppermann & Bo Zhou, 2016. "Inattention and Switching Costs as Sources of Inertia in Medicare Part D," NBER Working Papers 22765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein, 2017. "Moral Hazard in Health Insurance: What We Know and How We Know It," NBER Working Papers 24055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Ernst R. Berndt & Rena M. Conti & Stephen J. Murphy, 2017. "The Landscape of US Generic Prescription Drug Markets, 2004-2016," NBER Working Papers 23640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Kesternich, Iris & Heiss, Florian & McFadden, Daniel & Winter, Joachim, 2013. "Suit the action to the word, the word to the action: Hypothetical choices and real decisions in Medicare Part D," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1313-1324.
    7. Song, Zirui & Landrum, Mary Beth & Chernew, Michael E., 2013. "Competitive bidding in Medicare Advantage: Effect of benchmark changes on plan bids," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1301-1312.
    8. Berndt Ernst R. & McGuire Thomas & Newhouse Joseph P., 2011. "A Primer on the Economics of Prescription Pharmaceutical Pricing in Health Insurance Markets," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 14(2), pages 1-30, November.
    9. Glazer Jacob & Huskamp Haiden A. & McGuire Thomas G., 2012. "A Prescription for Drug Formulary Evaluation: An Application of Price Indexes," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(2), pages 1-26, March.
    10. Francesco Decarolis & Maria Polyakova & Stephen P. Ryan, 2015. "The Welfare Effects of Supply-Side Regulations in Medicare Part D," NBER Working Papers 21298, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter, 2009. "Regulation of private health insurance markets: Lessons from enrollment, plan type choice, and adverse selection in Medicare Part D," NBER Working Papers 15392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Maria Polyakova, 2016. "Regulation of Insurance with Adverse Selection and Switching Costs: Evidence from Medicare Part D," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 165-195, July.
    13. Heiss, Florian & Leive, Adam & McFadden, Daniel & Winter, Joachim, 2013. "Plan selection in Medicare Part D: Evidence from administrative data," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1325-1344.
    14. Andrew Stocking & James Baumgardner & Melinda Buntin & Anna Cook, 2014. "Examining the Number of Competitors and the Cost of Medicare Part D: Working Paper 2014-04," Working Papers 45553, Congressional Budget Office.
    15. Helen Levy & David R. Weir, 2010. "Take-up of Medicare Part D: Results From the Health and Retirement Study," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 65(4), pages 492-501.
    16. Neha Bairoliya & Pinar Karaca-Mandic & Jeffrey S. McCullough & Amil Petrin, 2017. "Consumer Learning and the Entry of Generic Pharmaceuticals," NBER Working Papers 23662, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, 2014. "When Consumers Do Not Make an Active Decision: Dynamic Default Rules and their Equilibrium Effects," NBER Working Papers 20127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. repec:aea:jecper:v:31:y:2017:i:4:p:3-22 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Jonathan D. Ketcham & Claudio Lucarelli & Eugenio J. Miravete & M. Christopher Roebuck, 2012. "Sinking, Swimming, or Learning to Swim in Medicare Part D," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2639-2673, October.
    20. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, 2014. "Consumer Inertia and Firm Pricing in the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Insurance Exchange," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 38-64, February.
    21. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_237 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Fang, H., 2016. "Insurance Markets for the Elderly," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, Elsevier.
    23. Francesco Decarolis & Andrea Guglielmo, 2016. "Insurers' Response to Selection Risk: Evidence from Medicare Enrollment Reforms," NBER Working Papers 22876, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter, 2011. "The Demand for Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage: Evidence from Four Waves of the Retirement Perspectives Survey," NBER Chapters,in: Explorations in the Economics of Aging, pages 159-182 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    25. Andrew Stocking & James Baumgardner & Melinda Buntin & Anna Cook, 2014. "Assessing the Design of the Low-Income Subsidy Program in Medicare Part D: Working Paper 2014-07," Working Papers 49451, Congressional Budget Office.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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