The biggest contributor to soaring healthcare costs is prescription drugs, many experts say, and according to the latest findings from the Darmouth Atlas Project, Miamians are heavy users, the Miami Herald reports.
Miami residents on Medicare filled more prescriptions for drugs in 2010 than seniors elsewhere in the country, and were more than twice as likely as residents in Rochester, Minn., to fill at least one prescription for medications that have been identified as high-risk for patients over age 65, such as skeletal muscle relaxants, long-acting benzodiazepines, and highly sedating antihistamines.
Miamians also rated well above the national average on the use of discretionary drugs — leading all other regions in the country by some measures. For example, Medicare patients in Miami are the most likely to fill at least one prescription for an antidepressant, with an average of 30.2 percent filling one. And they were the most likely to fill at least one prescription for a dementia medication, with an average of 17.1 percent.
These and other findings from the Dartmouth Atlas Project, which released its report on prescription drug use among seniors Tuesday, showed once again that Miami has by far the highest healthcare costs in the nation — with the average Medicare patient spending $4,738 on prescription drugs in 2010, more than any other region and well above the national average of $2,968.
Dartmouth’s research is one of the first comprehensive looks at Medicare Part D, the prescription-drug benefit program. Because the program was launched in 2006, there has been little data available for researchers to study the program’s benefits and risks. Read more.