Examines Medicare Part D enrollment rates in rural and
urban areas and the resulting impact on rural
beneficiaries' overall prescription drug coverage rates.
Overall Medicare Part D enrollment rates increased
from 55.5% in 2006, the first year of the program, to
61.4% in 2009. Annual increases were between 1 and 5
Rural Part D enrollment rates consistently lagged
behind urban rates by 2 to 4 percentage points,
increasing from 53.7% in 2006 to 58.6% in 2009, compared
to urban rates increasing from 56.0% to 62.3%,
Geographic disparities in prescription coverage have
greatly diminished over time: by 2009, prescription drug
coverage rates topped 90% in both rural and urban areas.
Rates of continuous uninsurance are approaching all-time
lows of 7% in rural areas and 4% in urban areas.
Independent of geographic location, there is strong
evidence of less-healthy beneficiaries enrolling in the
Part D program, and no evidence of the Part D program
crowding out private prescription drug coverage.
University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
Yvonne Jonk, Heidi O'Connor, Michelle Casey, Ira Moscovice