Younger Seniors Take the Most Advantage of Medicare for End of Life Care

Statics show younger seniors (65-75) are spending more of their medicare on end of life care, than older seniors. This demographic amasses the largest medical bills. Kaiser researchers said their findings suggest that providers, patients and their families may favor more costly, lifesaving care for younger seniors, and turn to hospice care when patients are older.

The team said spending on people who die in a given year represents a small and declining portion of Medicare spending,. 18% in 2000 but 13.5% in 2014. Overall, the aging baby boomer population is leading to a decrease in the growth of spending on patients’ last years of life. More beneficiaries are younger and healthier, and they are living longer, so their last years of life are cheaper.

Medicare spent an average of $34,529, and most of that money went to inpatient hospital expense, about 51%. The rest was spent mostly on skilled nursing facilities, home health care and hospice. “This is a pattern we weren’t really expecting to see,” says Juliette Cubanski, the associate director of the program on Medicare policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation. “It kind of goes against the notion that doctors are throwing everything including the kitchen sink at people at the end of life regardless of how old they are.”

Information from Rachel Bluth at Kaiser Health News.

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