Date: August 24, 2022
Data from the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs from 2016-2017 was used to identify four cohorts of rural counties based on pharmacy availability: counties with no retail pharmacy, counties with an independent pharmacy only, counties with one chain or franchise pharmacy only, and other rural counties with more than one pharmacy. Medicare Part D claims data from 2017 for beneficiaries residing in each of the county cohorts was analyzed to determine the source of their prescription medications.
- More Part D beneficiaries residing in rural counties with no retail pharmacy (19.5 percent) used a mail-order pharmacy compared to beneficiaries in rural counties with a pharmacy presence (15.8 – 17.1 percent across the three other cohorts).
- Part D beneficiaries in rural counties with no retail pharmacy used a higher number of pharmacies overall (1.84 pharmacies) compared to Part D beneficiaries in rural counties with a pharmacy presence (1.68-1.74 pharmacies).
- Beneficiaries residing in rural counties with no retail pharmacy traveled an average of 28.5 miles to use a community pharmacy compared to an average range of 6.5 – 13.1 miles for beneficiaries residing in rural counties with some type of pharmacy presence.
Keith J. Mueller, PhD
RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis