1. In December, the Maryland Health Care Commission (HCC) released its "2005 Prescription Drug Use and Expenditures" report. In 2005, the median annual expenditure for prescription drugs by Maryland residents under age 65 with private insurance was $229. The growth in the rate of prescription drug spending fell from 2004 to 2005. The HCC believes that this decline, similar to that of the nation, was caused by a drop in utilization. The generic share of prescriptions increased from 44% in 2004 to 47% in 2005. In 2005, 9% of Maryland's drug spending was done via mail order, while mail order is projected to account for more than 18% of all national prescription spending in 2006. From 2001 to 2005, insurer contributions to prescription spending decreased from 71% to 65%.
2. In January, the HCC issued the report "Health Insurance Coverage in Maryland through 2005" that examines the status of health insurance coverage for Maryland's under age 65 population. In the report, the term "uninsured" is defined as those residents who have not been insured for four or more months of the year. From 2004-2005, the nation reported a 17.7% nonelderly uninsured rate, while Maryland's rate was 15.8%. The HCC believes that Maryland's rate is lower because of a higher concentration of employer-based coverage. The report reiterated that the highest percentage of uninsured is the 19-34 age group, and that a significant portion of the uninsured are non-citizens. Maryland's non-citizen population is 29%, compared to 21% in the rest of the nation. Persons in families above 200% of the poverty level make up the majority of Maryland's uninsured (53%), and 25% of the uninsured have incomes above 400% of the poverty level, compared to 17% nationwide.