Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

Summer 1-1-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Gail A. Jensen Summers


This dissertation seeks to evaluate whether Medicare Part D has reduced racial/ethnic disparities in prescription drug utilization and spending among Medicare seniors. Using nationally representative data on White, African-American, and Hispanic Medicare seniors from the 2002-2009 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, this dissertation analyzes eight measures of access and utilization related to prescription medications. This dissertation applies the Institute of Medicine's definition of a racial/ethnic disparity, and adopts a difference-in-differences quasi-experimental design, using a multivariate regression framework. It finds strong evidence that Medicare Part D reduced ethnic disparities in prescription drug use, total prescription drug cost, out-of-pocket prescription drug cost, and prevalence of any emergency department visits between White and Hispanic seniors. However, it has little effect on disparities between White and African-American seniors. This dissertation finds that there still exist significant racial/ethnic disparities between White and minority seniors in prescription drugs utilization and spending.