Impact of the phased abolition of co-payments on the utilisation of selected prescription medicines in Wales

from Health Economics at on July 7, 2017 at 08:17AM


We have taken advantage of a natural experiment to measure the impact of the phased abolition of prescription co-payments in Wales. We investigated 3 study periods covering the phased abolition: from £6 to £4, £4 to £3, and £3 to £0. A difference-in-difference modelling was adopted and applied to monthly UK general practice level dispensing data on 14 selected medicines which had the highest percentage of items dispensed subject to a co-payment prior to abolition. Dispensing from a comparator region (North East of England) with similar health and socio-economic characteristics to Wales, and where prescription co-payments continued during the study periods, was used to isolate any non-price effects on dispensing in Wales. Results show a small increase in dispensing of 14 selected medicines versus the comparator. Compared with NE England, monthly average Welsh dispensing was increased by 11.93 items (7.67%; 95% CI [7.2%, 8.1%]), 6.37 items (3.38%; 95% CI [2.9%, 3.7%]) and 9.18 items (4.54%; 95% CI [4.2%, 4.9%]) per practice per 1,000 population during the periods when co-payment was reduced. Price elasticities of the selected medicines utilisation were −0.23, −0.13, and −0.04 in 3 analyses, suggesting the abolition of co-payment had small effect on Welsh dispensing.