A new study from George Mason University and the Urban Institute reveals that greater spending on medical services means better overall health for Medicare participants. Health Administration and Policy Professor Jack Hadley and his co-authors, Urban Institute researchers Timothy Waidmann, Stephen Zuckerman, and Robert Berenson, analyzed data from more than 17,000 Medicare beneficiaries to draw this conclusion.
Previous reports showed that Medicare spending varies greatly by geographic area, but with little to show for it-the health outcomes for people who live in expensive geographic areas are not necessarily better than those who live in less expensive geographic areas. As a result, policymakers have considered limiting Medicare payments in high-cost areas.
But, as described in their recent study, "Medical Spending and the Health of the Elderly," the research team found that spending more on Medicare medical expenses actually resulted in greater survival and a better overall health score, using an index that measures perceived health and activity limitations.
"The motivation for the study was a large body of research that's been done over the past ten years that typically has found that there is little or no relationship between how much Medicare spends and the health outcomes of elderly people," Hadley says.
But these studies looked at large swathes of populations, typically by geographic location, and used averages to draw their conclusions. "The implication was that higher spending was not contributing to better health," Hadley says.
He explains, "While that finding is very persuasive, it doesn't look at individuals and the amount of medical care that they each receive." So in this study, the research team used data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, which collects extensive information from Medicare participants over a three-year span, to determine whether a relationship existed between medical spending and better health.
"The surveys provide much richer information about the person's health condition than one can typically get from insurance claims data," Hadley says.
The full results of the study will appear in an upcoming edition of the journal Health Services Research, which is published by the Health Research and Educational Trust and is an official journal of AcademyHealth.
"Over this three-year period-controlling for people's health when they first come into the survey and new diagnoses they may have had over the course of the three years-what was their health like at the end of the observation period? And did that vary with how much medical care they received as individuals?" Hadley asks.
The statistical analysis indicates that the individuals' health did vary with their medical care spending. Over a three-year span, for a 10 percent increase in medical spending, there was 1.9 percent increase in the patient's health score, called the Health and Activity Limitations Index and a 1.5 percent greater survival probability.
The researchers classify this finding as a "modest effect" but stress that "the key thing is that we did find a positive relationship as opposed to other studies which have suggested that there's no relationship between how much care a person receives and what their health outcomes are."
"This suggests that policymakers need to understand that across-the-board reductions in Medicare spending in a geographic area or on a national level could have harmful effects on beneficiaries' health," The Urban Institute's Timothy Waidmann explains. "To look for inefficiencies, you need to look more closely at specific conditions and diseases and how those are treated. Analysis from 40,000 feet just doesn't do that for you."
The study was supported from a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's program on Health Care Financing and Organization.
The abstract can be viewed online here and are full findings are available upon request.
About George Mason University
George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country. Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University-Where Innovation Is Tradition.
Leah K. Fogarty | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences