Eliminating med copays after heart attack can improve outcomes for non-white patients

May 14, 2014

Eliminating copays for preventive medications prescribed for post-heart attack patients can significantly improve medication adherence for all patients, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

Dr Shrank

Eliminating copays for preventive medications prescribed for post-heart attack patients can significantly improve medication adherence for all patients, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

In addition, providing full drug coverage reduced healthcare spending by 70% among self-identified, non-white patients and also improved health outcomes for these patients.

This secondary analysis evaluated data from the randomized Myocardial Infarction Free Rx Event and Economic Evaluation MI FREEE) trial to see whether providing full coverage for post-MI medications had differential effects based on race and ethnicity.  Researchers from CVS Caremark and Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed data from the MI FREEE trial conducted by Aetna and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and previously published in 2011.

“Racial and ethnic disparities in cardiovascular care have been widely documented in the peer-reviewed literature and persist despite overall improvements in cardiovascular mortality and risk factor control. This study suggests eliminating copays may be an effective strategy in improving adherence and reducing disparities in cardiovascular care in non-white patients,” said William Shrank, MD, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of CVS Caremark.

There have been a lot of studies demonstrating that disparities in care exist, according to Dr Shank. “This study shows us a straightforward way to reduce those disparities and improve health outcomes. We should note that the value based insurance design [VBID] approach of eliminating copayments for maintenance medications after a heart attack is actually a relatively simple, low-risk change that should be considered for broader usage,” he said.