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Prescription Advantage: An AARP Study of Massachusetts Residents Age 64+

Prescription Advantage is a prescription insurance plan offered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to all residents age 65 and older, as well as younger, low-income residents with qualifying disabilities. The plan provides affordable coverage to this population by setting premiums, co-payment rates, and deductibles according to participants' income. In addition, the plan includes a maximum out-of-pocket spending limit of 10 percent of a participant's gross annual income or $2,000 per year ($3,000 for couples), whichever is less.

AARP Massachusetts commissioned this study to better understand the need for, experiences with, and usage of prescription insurance, including Prescription Advantage, among older Massachusetts residents.

Findings show that:

  • The majority of Massachusetts residents age 64 and older take prescription medication every day.
  • While the majority of older residents have some assistance paying for prescriptions, for those who are in need of coverage or have gaps in coverage, there is an urgent call for additional marketing to raise awareness of the Prescription Advantage Plan and its benefits.
  • Those without coverage appear to be waiting until they need prescription coverage to purchase a policy, such as when their prescription costs increase or become a burden.
  • Those who are enrolled in Prescription Advantage are very satisfied with the plan. Many commented on how the plan has proved invaluable in preventing them from ruinous debt because of prescription costs.

The study, which combined both qualitative and quantitative methods, included four focus groups in June 2002 with residents from the greater Boston area; a telephone survey of Massachusetts residents age 64 and older between August 12 and September 7, 2002; and 16 in-depth interviews conducted with Prescription Advantage participants September 3-5, 2002. For further information, contact Rachelle Cummins at 202-434-6297. (46 pages)

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