Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Triple Healthcare Costs for Americans 65 and Older

New figures confirm what family caregivers have long known: when a senior loved one has Alzheimers disease, the cost of care is well above that of seniors without memory loss.
New figures confirm what family caregivers have long known: when a senior loved one has Alzheimer's disease, the cost of care is well above that of seniors without memory loss.
Total healthcare costs are more than three times higher for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias than for other people age 65 and older, according to the Alzheimer’s Association’s recent report, 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.

In the new report, total healthcare costs are calculated as per person payments measured from all sources. Medicare payments alone are almost three times higher for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia than for others age 65 and over; Medicaid payments alone are more than nine times higher.

“With the country facing unprecedented economic challenges and a rapidly aging baby boomer population, now is the time to address the burgeoning Alzheimer crisis that triples healthcare costs for Americans age 65 and over,” said Harry Johns, Alzheimer’s Association CEO.

“It is widely understood that addressing healthcare is key to the country regaining its financial footing,” continued Johns. “And there is no way this can be done without improving Medicare and Medicaid, which Alzheimer’s directly impacts. A strategy to immediately confront Alzheimer’s has the potential to save millions of lives and billions of dollars by reducing the burden on Medicare and Medicaid.”

Read more: Right at Home

NEWS: Study Finds Hospital Quality Not Necessarily Dependent on Cost

There is no evidence that hospitals that spend more money on services for patients at the end of life provide them with better care, and in some cases they provide worse care, according to a new study published in the Web edition of Health Affairs, a health policy journal.
Researchers studied the cost of care at 2,172 hospitals nationwide for Medicare beneficiaries at the end of life who had heart attacks, pneumonia and congestive heart failure. At the low end, hospitals spent an average $16,059; at the high end, they spent an average of $34,742.
But, after researchers factored in specific quality indicators, they found either no association or a negative link with spending.
“The absence of positive correlations suggests that some institutions achieve exemplary performance on quality measures in settings that feature lower intensity of care,” the authors said. “This finding highlights the need for reporting information on both quality and spending.”