Kaiser Family Foundation June 9, 2021
Elizabeth Williams, Rachel Dolan

Key Takeaways

Prescription drug spending in Medicaid and other health programs has returned to the national policy debate. This analysis examines Medicaid outpatient prescription drug utilization and spending before rebates over the 2015 to 2019 period, which is helpful for understanding recent cost drivers and areas for targeted policy action. Key takeaways include:

  • Utilization, measured in terms of the number of prescriptions, increased by 5% from 2015 to 2019. Utilization increased from 2015 to 2017 and then declined in the years following.
    • The ten most frequently prescribed drug groups, which included Analgesics/Antipyretics, psychotherapeutic agents, cardiac drugs, antibiotics, and anticonvulsants, were relatively stable throughout the period, with the same groups making up the top five drug groups by utilization...

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