High Medicare costs for long-term care

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 25, 2010

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Medicare beneficiaries living in nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term-care facilities account for a disproportionate share of total Medicare spending, according to an October report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

About 2.2 million beneficiaries lived in a long-term-care facility for some or all of 2006, accounting for 3% of the Medicare population but 5% of program spending, the study showed. Medicare on average spent more than twice the amount for beneficiaries in long-term-care facilities than for other beneficiaries -- $14,538 per person, compared with $6,726.

With hospital expenses accounting for nearly 40% of Medicare spending on patients who lived in long-term-care facilities, researchers concluded that reducing hospitalization rates among these beneficiaries by 25% would save Medicare $2.1 billion in 2010.

"As policymakers look for ways to slow the growth in Medicare spending, our results underscore the potential value in pursuing interventions that focus specifically on Medicare beneficiaries living in long-term-care facilities," researchers wrote.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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