Study: Obamacare Enrollees More Likely to Be on HIV Meds, Anti-Depressants, Pain-Killers

Barbara Boland
By Barbara Boland | April 9, 2014 | 3:36 PM EDT

Obamacare enrollees were four times as likely to fill prescriptions for HIV medication, and the data shows that exchange users were less likely to fill contraceptive prescriptions than those in commercial plans, but more likely to use specialty medications. The data comes from one of the first studies on medication use of enrollees by Express Scripts. Express Scripts is one of the largest prescriptions benefits managers in the U.S.

The proportion of pain medication filled by Obamacare enrollees was 35% higher, and anti-seizure medication was 27% higher. Prescriptions filled for antidepressants were 14% higher, while contraceptives were 31% lower.

Interestingly, 43% of Exchange enrollees were enrolled in a plan with Express Scripts in 2013 while the other 57% were either uninsured or enrolled in a plan that wasn't managed by Express Scripts.

Quite unlike the hype, those who signed up for Obamacare were more likely to have higher out-of-pocket costs for pharmaceuticals. Commercial plans covered 35% more of the pharmacy costs for their enrollees.

The data Express Scripts processes is updated in real-time. This gives them a unique first glimpse at the health of Obamacare enrollees. Data from medical claims, on the other hand, will not be available for several months. The Exchange sample the study looked at was from over 650,000 pharmacy claims filed between January 1, 2014 and February 28, 2014.