06 Aug How Does US Spending on Health Care for Seniors Compare to Other Countries?
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Irene Papanicolas PhD
Associate Professor of Health Economics
Department of Health Policy
London School of Economics and Political Science
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The background to this study has been the recent debate around Health care reform in the US and whether moving to a Medicare for all model would bring down U.S. health care costs. One of the key arguments to this debate is that moving to a Medicare for all model would save the US money on the premise that health care provision for the over 65 population is more efficient as compared to the population under 65.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: The data from our comparison of the 65+ population shows that while per capita spending across the over 65 population is not uniformly distributed, for most age groups it is still higher in the U.S. relative to comparators. More specifically, the U.S. spends almost twice as much as the other seven countries for the groups aged 65-80, approximately 1.5 times as much for those aged 80-90, and less than average for those aged 90+.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: These findings suggest that despite having a more similar health care structure to other high spending health care systems, the U.S. health care system for those aged over 65 continues to be more expensive than comparators, although spending growth does appear to level off at older ages. Therefore, policymakers should expand their options for health care reform to consider more than Medicare expansion.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: This study suggests that despite different types of financing models in the US for those above age 65, costs at all ages remain higher than other countries. This is likely related to many factors such as prices, health status, generosity of benefits (particularly long term care), more work is needed to better understand how much these different drivers contribute to high expenditures in order to inform health care reform.
No disclosures to add.
Papanicolas I, Marino A, Lorenzoni L, Jha A. Comparison of Health Care Spending by Age in 8 High-Income Countries. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(8):e2014688. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.14688
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