Most Health Care Costs Associated With Osteoporotic Fractures Occur in First Year

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kandice A. Kapinos, Ph.D. Economist Professor RAND Corporation Pardee RAND Graduate School 

Dr. Kapinos

Kandice A. Kapinos, Ph.D.
Economist
Professor
RAND Corporation
Pardee RAND Graduate School 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The economic burden of osteoporotic fractures is substantial with studies estimating the annual healthcare cost burden between $10 to 17 billion. Although estimates from individual studies vary, most studies assessing costs after a fracture only explore up to twelve months following a fracture. There is little investigation of how fracture patients’ costs evolve over a longer post-fracture period.

As osteoporotic fractures are one of the most common causes of disability among older adults and can translate into greater medical costs, we focused on studying Medicare beneficiaries. In fact, previous research has suggested that most of the increase in Medicare spending over time can be explained from costs associated with treating higher risk Medicare beneficiaries.

Our objective in this study was to compare health care costs over a 3-year period of those who experienced a fracture to those who did not among a sample of Medicare beneficiaries who were at an increased risk of having a fracture.

Consistent with previous studies, we found a significant increase in expenditures in the year immediately following a fracture relative to controls: almost $14,000 higher for fractures relative to controls. However, at 2 and 3-years post-fracture, there were no significant differences in the change in expenditures between fracture cases and controls. We note that these findings may be different for beneficiaries living in skilled nursing facilities or other non-community-based settings.

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