Introduction: The increase in chronic health conditions among Medicare beneficiaries has implications for the Medicare system. The objective of this study was to use the US Department of Health and Human Services Strategic Framework on multiple chronic conditions as a basis to examine the prevalence of multiple chronic conditions among Medicare beneficiaries.
Analysis: We analyzed Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrative claims data for Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the fee-for-service program in 2010. We included approximately 31 million Medicare beneficiaries and examined 15 chronic conditions. A beneficiary was considered to have a chronic condition if a Medicare claim indicated that the beneficiary received a service or treatment for the condition. We defined the prevalence of multiple chronic conditions as having 2 or more chronic conditions.
Results: Overall, 68.4% of Medicare beneficiaries had 2 or more chronic conditions and 36.4% had 4 or more chronic conditions. The prevalence of multiple chronic conditions increased with age and was more prevalent among women than men across all age groups. Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women had the highest prevalence of 4 or more chronic conditions, whereas Asian or Pacific Islander men and women, in general, had the lowest.
Summary: The prevalence of multiple chronic conditions among the Medicare fee-for-service population varies across demographic groups. Multiple chronic conditions appear to be more prevalent among women, particularly non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women, and among beneficiaries eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Our findings can help public health researchers target prevention and management strategies to improve care and reduce costs for people with multiple chronic conditions.