Patients age 85 and older continue to spend more on healthcare than other age groupsbut the growth rate on spending for this age group has slowed since the late 1980s, according to the CMS.
Slower growth in nursing-home costs may account for this trend. In addition, payers such as Medicaid have been attempting to move the most elderly patients from nursing facilities to home and community-based settings, according to a CMS report.
Per-person healthcare spending for those age 65 and older was $14,797 in 2004nearly 5.6 times higher than spending per child ($2,650 in 2004) and almost 3.3 times higher than spending for working-age people ages 19 to 64 ($4,511 in 2004), the agency reported. But the largest decline in spending relative to nonelderly groups took place among those aged 85 and older. Spending for this group was 6.9 times higher than spending by the working-age population in 1987, but only nearly 5.7 times higher in 2004 ($25,691), the agency noted.
Because the oldest seniors are a relatively small subgroup of the elderly, the slower spending growth for this group has not had a large effect on overall trends in per capita spending for seniors. That could change in the future, though, when those over age 85 make up a greater share of the nations population, the report stated.
The report appears as a Web exclusive article for the journal Health Affairs today. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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