July 17, 2016

TERMINAL IS TERMINAL:

Why 4% of Patients Consume 25% of Medicare Spending (Eric Pianin, July 15, 2016, Fiscal Times)

[T]he new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation released on Thursday pokes a big hole in that assumption.

Of the 2.6 million Americans who died in this country in 2014, eight out of ten were enrolled in Medicare, the premier national health care program for seniors. However, the Kaiser study found that Medicare spent significantly more per capita on medical services and treatment for people in their late 60s and early 70s than on much older beneficiaries.

Indeed, the analysis concluded that per capita Medicare spending at the end of life actually declines with age - peaking at $43,353 for those 73 years old and then gradually declining to $33,381 for 85-year-olds and just $27,779 for people 90 and older.

The report says that it's hardly surprising that a "disproportionate share" of Medicare resources goes to beneficiaries at the end of life. Many of those beneficiaries suffer serious illnesses like Alzheimer's disease, congestive heart failure, kidney problems, cancer and multiple chronic conditions that require inpatient hospitalization, post-acute care and hospice.

Yet per capita spending for inpatient services "is lower among decedents in their eighties, nineties, and older than for decedents in their late sixties and seventies, while spending is higher for hospice care among older decedents," the report states.

"These results suggest that providers, patients and their families may be inclined to be more aggressive in treating younger seniors compared to older seniors, perhaps because there is a greater expectation for positive outcomes among those with a longer life expectancy, even those who are seriously ill," notes the report, which was written by Juliette Cubanksi, Tricia Neuman, Shannon Griffin and Anthony Damico.

Posted by at July 17, 2016 7:09 AM

  

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