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[Research journal article] Medicare Per Capita Spending By Age And Service: New Data Highlights Oldest Beneficiaries | Full Text Reports…

Medicare Per Capita Spending By Age And Service: New Data Highlights Oldest Beneficiaries 

  1. Patricia Neuman1,*,
  2. Juliette Cubanski2 and
  3. Anthony Damico3

  1. 1Patricia Neuman ( is senior vice president and director of the Program on Medicare Policy at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, in Washington, D.C.

  2. 2Juliette Cubanski is associate director of the Program on Medicare Policy at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

  3. 3Anthony Damico is an independent consultant in Bethesda, Maryland.


Medicare per capita spending for beneficiaries with traditional Medicare over age 65 peaks among beneficiaries in their mid-90s and then declines, and it varies by type of service with advancing age. Between 2000 and 2011 the peak age for Medicare per capita spending increased from 92 to 96. In contrast, among decedents, Medicare per capita spending declines with age.

As the US population ages and more people on Medicare live into their 80s, 90s, and beyond, analysts and policy makers are examining the impact of these trends on the federal budget and the Medicare program. At the same time, geriatricians and other providers who care for older patients are paying greater attention to the question of how best to meet the needs of an aging population. By 2050 the number of people on Medicare ages 80 and older will nearly triple; the number of people in their 90s and 100s will quadruple.13

To inform discussions about Medicare’s role in providing coverage for an aging population and to assess the relationship between Medicare spending and advancing age, this article presents findings from an analysis of Medicare per capita spending among beneficiaries over age 65 in traditional Medicare, by age and type of service.4Our main findings are shown in Exhibit 1 and discussed in detail below.

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Exhibit 1

Medicare Per Capita Spending For Traditional Medicare Beneficiaries Over Age 65, By Age And Survival Status, 2011

SOURCE Authors’ analysis of a 5 percent sample of Medicare claims for 2011 from the Chronic Conditions Data Warehouse of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. NOTES Average per capita spending in 2011 for all traditional Medicare beneficiaries over age 65 (“all beneficiaries”) was $9,839; for the subset of those beneficiaries who were still alive at the end of 2011 (“full-year survivors”), it was $8,647. The analysis excluded beneficiaries with Medicare Advantage. The analysis also excluded traditional Medicare beneficiaries age 65 because some of these beneficiaries are enrolled for less than a full year; therefore, a full year of Medicare spending data is not available for all people at this age.

Previous studies have reported an increase by age in Medicare per capita spending,5,6beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending,7 and Medicaid spending.8 However, they have not examined Medicare per capita spending in depth, categorizing it by beneficiaries’ age and type of service and including trends over time.

We examine the following questions: What is the trajectory of Medicare per capita spending by age, at what age does spending peak, and has the peak age changed over time? How does Medicare per capita spending by age vary for specific Medicare-covered services? What is the pattern of per capita spending by age among decedents?

January 23, 2015 - Posted by | health care | , , ,

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