Gender Differences in Drug Use and Expenditures in a Privately Insured Population of Older Adults

Correa-De-Araujo, Rosaly; Miller, G. Edward; Banthin, Jessica S.; Trinh, Yen
February 2005
Journal of Women's Health (15409996);Feb2005, Vol. 14 Issue 1, p73
Academic Journal
We examine gender differences in use and expenditures for prescription drugs among Medicare and privately insured older adults aged 65 and over, using data on a nationally representative sample of prescription drug purchases collected for the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component. Overall, women spent about $1,178 for drugs, about 17% more than the $1,009 in average expenditures by men. Older women constituted 50.7% of the population and had average annual aggregate expenditures for prescribed medicines of $6.93 billion compared to $5.77 billion for men. Women were more likely than men to use drugs from a number of therapeutic classes-analgesics, hormones and psychotherapeutic agents-and therapeutic subclasses-thyroid drugs, COX-2 inhibitors and anti-depressants. Women also had higher average prescriptions per user for a number of therapeutic classes-hormones, psychotherapeutic agents and analgesics-and therapeutic subclasses-anti-diabetic drugs and beta blockers. Prescribed medications are, arguably, the most important healthcare technology in preventing illness, disability, and death in older adults. It is critical that older women and men have proper access to prescribed medicines. Given the financial vulnerability of this priority population, particularly women, the expanded drug coverage available under the Medicare Modernization Act is of particular relevance in meeting this goal.


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