Drug costs bar blacks from treatment

July 24, 2003 at 9:15 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 24 (UPI) -- Elderly black Medicare beneficiaries are more than twice as likely as whites to report they can't afford prescriptions.

A study released Thursday by the Center for Studying Health System Change said almost one in six black Medicare beneficiaries 65 and older did not fill at least one prescription in the last year because of cost, compared with one in 15 whites.

African Americans' lower incomes, lack of supplemental insurance and greater prevalence of certain chronic conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, all contribute to the prescription drug access gap.

"There's no question that the lack of Medicare prescription drug coverage falls disproportionately on African-American seniors," said Paul Ginsburg, president of HSC, a non-partisan policy research organization.

Nationwide, 7.7 percent of all elderly Medicare beneficiaries, 16.4 percent of black beneficiaries and 6.8 percent of white beneficiaries reported they could not afford to fill at least one prescription in the previous year.

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