In Late Life, Costs of Dementia Care Outweigh Those of Other Diseases

November 11, 2015 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Among Medicare beneficiaries in the last five years of life, the total costs of care for those with dementia are "substantially larger" than the costs of care for other diseases, reports a study published online October 27, 2015, in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers measured total social costs—including Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, out-of-pocket spending, and informal care—for 1,702 Medicare beneficiaries age 70 or older five years before death. For those with dementia, the average total cost was $287,038, whereas the cost was $175,136 for those who died of heart disease, $173,383 for those who died of cancer, and $197,286 for those who died of other causes. Medicare costs were similar across groups. However, out-of-pocket spending was 81% higher for those with dementia ($61,522) than for those without dementia ($34,068).

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