Impact of copayment changes on children's albuterol inhaler use and costs after the Clean Air Act chlorofluorocarbon ban
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OBJECTIVE: To examine changes in children's albuterol use and out-of-pocket (OOP) costs in response to increased copayments after the Food and Drug Administration banned inhalers with chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellants. SETTING: Four health maintenance organizations (HMOs), two that increased copayments for albuterol inhalers that went from generic CFC-containing to branded CFC-free versions, and two that retained generic copayments for CFC-free inhalers (controls). We included children with asthma aged 4-17 years with commercial coverage from 2007 to 2010. DESIGN: Interrupted time series with comparison series. DATA: We obtained enrollee and plan characteristics from enrollment files, and utilization data from pharmacy and medical claims; OOP expenditures were extracted from pharmacy claims for two HMOs with cost data available. FINDINGS: There were no significant differences in albuterol use between the group with increased cost-sharing and controls with respect to changes after the policy change. There was a postpolicy increase of $6.11 OOP per month per child using albuterol among those with increased cost-sharing versus $0.36 in controls; the difference between groups was significant (p < .01). CONCLUSIONS: Increased copayments for brand-name CFC-free albuterol after the CFC ban did not lead to a decrease in children's albuterol use, but it led to a modest increase in OOP costs.
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