Background: Few studies have examined patterns of health care utilization and costs during the period around incident dementia.
Methods: Participants were drawn from the Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging Project, a multiethnic, population-based, prospective study of cognitive aging of Medicare beneficiaries in a geographically defined area of northern Manhattan. Medicare utilization and expenditure were examined in individuals with clinically diagnosed dementia from 2 years before until 2 years after the initial diagnosis. A sample of non-demented individuals who were matched on socio-demographic and clinical characteristics at study enrollment was used as controls. Multivariable regression analysis estimated effects on Medicare utilization and expenditures associated with incident dementia.
Results: During the 2 years before incident dementia, rates of inpatient admissions and outpatient visits were similar between dementia patients and non-demented controls, but use of home health and skilled nursing care and durable medical equipment were already higher in dementia patients. Results showed a small but significant excess increase associated with incident dementia in inpatient admissions but not in other areas of care. In the 2 years before incident dementia, total Medicare expenditures were already higher in dementia patients than in non-demented controls. But we found no excess increases in Medicare expenditures associated with incident dementia.
Conclusions: Demand for medical care already is increasing and costs are higher at the time of incident dementia. There was a small but significant excess risk of inpatient admission associated with incident dementia.
Keywords: Health care expenditures; Health care use; Incident dementia; Longitudinal follow-up; Medicare.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Gerontological Society of America 2015.