New medical technology on the horizon such as implantable defibrillators and drugs to prevent Alzheimer's disease could boost future Medicare costs by as much as 70%, according to a report by Rand Corp. published online by the journal Health Affairs. Some savings would come from a continuing drop in disability rates among the elderly, but those savings would likely be overshadowed by increased spending on healthy elderly patients, the researchers said. For example, if half of the patients with new cases of heart failure or heart attacks received implantable defibrillators, spending would rise $14 billion in 2015 and $21 billion in 2030 -- about 4% of total spending on healthcare for the elderly, the researchers said. Some cost savings might be obtained if the national obesity rate were reduced, as Medicare's costs are significantly higher for obese seniors. More than $300 billion annually is spent on healthcare for America's elderly. Read the report. -- by Cinda Becker
New technology may mean explosion in Medicare costs
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