Analysis of dementia in the US population using Medicare claims: Insights from linked survey and administrative claims data

Alzheimers Dement (N Y). 2019 Jun 6;5:197-207. doi: 10.1016/j.trci.2019.04.003. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: Medicare claims data may be a rich data source for tracking population dementia rates. Insufficient understanding of completeness of diagnosis, and for whom, limits their use.

Methods: We analyzed agreement in prevalent and incident dementia based on cognitive assessment from the Health and Retirement Study for persons with linked Medicare claims from 2000 to 2008 (N = 10,450 persons). Multinomial logistic regression identified sociodemographic factors associated with disagreement.

Results: Survey-based cognitive tests and claims-based dementia diagnosis yielded equal prevalence estimates, yet only half were identified by both measures. Race and education were associated with disagreement. Eighty-five percent of respondents with incident dementia measured by cognitive decline received a diagnosis or died within the study period, with lower odds among blacks and Hispanics than among whites.

Discussions: Claims data are valuable for tracking dementia in the US population and improve over time. Delayed diagnosis may underestimate rates within black and Hispanic populations.

Keywords: Cognition; Diagnosis; Disparities; Incidence; Prevalence; Race/ethnicity.