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Medicare Cost Effects Of Recent U.S. Disability Trends In The Elderly

Kenneth G. Manton, Vicki L. Lamb, XiLiang Gu

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Objective: The authors examine how trends in disability prevalence and in inflation-adjusted per capita, per annum Medicare costs, 1982 to 1999 and 1989 to 1999, affected total Medicare costs projected to 2004 and 2009. Method: To describe disability trends, the authors applied grade of membership analyses to 27 measures of disability from the 1982 to 1999 National Long Term Care Surveys (NLTCS). This identified seven disability profiles for which individual scores were calculated. These were used to calculate sample weighted Medicare costs and cost trends. Results: Significant declines (up to 19%) in Medicare costs were found in 2004 and 2009 assuming continuation of the 1982 to 1999 disability declines and Medicare cost trends. In addition to declines in disability prevalence, inflation-adjusted per capita, per annum Medicare costs declined for nondisabled persons aged 65 to 84. Discussion: Preserving health in the growing nondisabled population did not require increased health care expenditures.