People 65 and over accounted for $387 billion, or 36%, of U.S. healthcare spending in 1999 while making up 13% of the population, according to a report by the CMS' Office of the Actuary. The elderly consumed an average of $11,089 each in healthcare goods and services in 1999, four times as much as the average for all Americans under 65, including children. The CMS said this was the first time since 1989 that it had published healthcare spending estimates by age.
Medicare paid for 46% of the cost of caring for the elderly, while Medicaid and private payers each covered about 15%. Medicare spending is expected to grow 67% to $297 billion in 2049 from $178 billion in 1999, reflecting a variety of factors including the new prescription drug benefit and the aging U.S. population. Spending on nursing home services will grow 89% between 1999 and 2049, to $169.3 billion, the CMS said. Read the report. -- by Joseph Mantone