Volume 11 Issue 262
Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 5-Oct-2009 
Next Update - 14:00 UC 08:00 EST 6-Oct-2009

Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
All rights reserved.



Suboptimal care before age 65 may lead to higher medicare costs for previously uninsured adults

(5 October 2009: VIDYYA MEDICAL NEWS SERVICE) -- Growing evidence suggests that health insurance benefits the long-term health of adults with treatable illnesses. Conversely, patients without health insurance often receive suboptimal care that can result in irreversible complications, elevated clinical risks, or delay of costly elective procedures.

The disparities in health care and disease management often lessen after patients become eligible for near-universal Medicare coverage after the age of 65. Researchers compared Medicare spending for 2,951 continuously insured adults and 1,616 adults who were intermittently or continuously uninsured before age 65. They analyzed longitudinal survey data and linked Medicare claims data to compare spending. They estimated that Medicare spending for previously uninsured patients was significantly higher ($5,796) compared to previously insured ($4,773) adults.

Previously uninsured patients also had higher adjusted annual hospital rates for complications related to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Researchers conclude that costs of expanded coverage before age 65 may be partially offset by subsequent reductions in Medicare spending after 65 for patients, especially those with common chronic conditions. A separate editorial cautions that the savings to Medicare of expanded coverage before age 65 are unlikley to be as large as the researchers suggest.

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