Racial and ethnic differences in disease course Medicare expenditures for beneficiaries with dementia.

TitleRacial and ethnic differences in disease course Medicare expenditures for beneficiaries with dementia.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsOlchanski, N, Zhu, Y, Liang, L, Cohen, JT, Faul, JD, Fillit, HM, Freund, KM, Lin, P-J
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
ISSN Number1532-5415
KeywordsCosts, Dementia, health care disparities, Medicare

BACKGROUND: Research on racial and ethnic disparities in costs of care during the course of dementia is sparse. We analyzed Medicare expenditures for beneficiaries with dementia to identify when during the course of care costs are the highest and whether they differ by race and ethnicity.

METHODS: We analyzed data from the 2000-2016 Health and Retirement Study (HRS) linked with corresponding Medicare claims to estimate total Medicare expenditures for four phases: (1) the year before a dementia diagnosis, (2) the first year following a dementia diagnosis, (3) ongoing care for dementia after the first year, and (4) the last year of life. We estimated each patient's phase-specific and disease course Medicare expenditures by using a race-specific survival model and monthly expenditures adjusted for patient characteristics. We investigated healthcare utilization by service type across races/ethnicities and phases of care.

RESULTS: Adjusted mean total Medicare expenditures for non-Hispanic (NH) Black ($165,730) and Hispanic beneficiaries with dementia ($160,442) exceeded corresponding expenditures for NH Whites ($136,326). In the year preceding and immediately following initial dementia diagnosis, mean Medicare expenditures for NH Blacks ($26,337 and $20,429) exceeded expenditures for Hispanics and NH Whites ($21,399-23,176 and 17,182-18,244). The last year of life was responsible for the greatest cost contribution: $51,294 (NH Blacks), $47,469 (Hispanics), and $39,499 (NH Whites). These differences were driven by greater use of high-cost services (e.g., emergency department, inpatient and intensive care), especially during the last year of life.

CONCLUSIONS: NH Black and Hispanic beneficiaries with dementia had higher disease course Medicare expenditures than NH Whites. Expenditures were highest for NH Black beneficiaries in every phase of care. Further research should address mechanisms of such disparities and identify methods to improve communication, shared decision-making, and access to appropriate services for all populations.

Citation Key13835
PubMed ID38504583
Grant ListR01AG060165 / NH / NIH HHS / United States