The Congressional Budget Office issues “Changes in Medicare Spending”

Posted on Monday, December 7, 2015 11:44 AM

A working paper, “Changes in Medicare Spending per Beneficiary by Age” has been issued by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  This paper provides estimates of how Medicare spending per beneficiary for people of different ages and for different types of services has changed in recent years by identifying “rapid growth in spending on SNF [skilled nursing facility] and hospice care and the increasing concentration of the use of hospice care among the very old” as accounting for “almost the entire increase in the age for which Medicare spending per beneficiary was highest.”  From 1999 to 2012, the highest Medicare spending age per beneficiary rose from 87 to 96. During this same period, substantial changes occurred in spending for SNF care, hospice care, and acute inpatient care which affected the profile of Medicare spending per beneficiary by age. Spending on SNF and hospice care for all age groups rose rapidly, and showed an increased concentration of hospice by the very old.  At the same time, the care of acute inpatients declined more rapidly for younger Medicare beneficiaries than for those above 85 years of age. Before the late 1990s, rapid growth in spending on home health and SNF care drove the average growth rate in spending for very old beneficiaries.  Recently, that appears to have shifted to a combination of hospice and SNF care. For more information, click here.

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