Oldsters Bringing Up the Rear in Health Care Spending…

Jan Thayer: A fabulous 76 innings for quality.

Jan Thayer: A fabulous 76 innings for quality.


Good afternoon, ProviderNation.

Just when you thought there was no other way to say how seniors are getting the short end of the stick, along come the stat geeks at CMS to tell us that “personal health care spending” for the elderly is way behind any other demographic.

Per capita spending on old timers grew by 2.4 percent between 2008 and 2010, CMS says. “Slower Medicare spending and continued slow growth in spending for nursing care facilities and continuing care retirement communities contributed to the low rate of growth,” CMS says in a news release. “Also, private health insurance spending per enrollee for those ages 65 and older grew slowly, at 3.0 percent annually over the period—the slowest growth rate of private health insurance among the major age groups. Out-of-pocket spending per person for the elderly declined 0.4 percent annually over this period.”

Overall, personal health care spending for the elderly grew by 4.1 percent between 2002 and 2010. Per capita spending for children grew by 5.7 percent over the same time, CMS says. The numbers also show that working-age women outspent men by about 25 percent in 2010, which was actually down from the “peak disparity” of 29 percent in 2004.

“Despite the lower rate of growth among the elderly,” CMS was quick to add, “per capita spending by the elderly in 2010 ($18,424) continued to be about three times more than the average for working adults ($6,125) and five times more than for children ($3,628).”

In other news, allow me to let you in on a dirty secret of the dirty business of journalism: Hacks love obits. And that’s not just because there’s no threat of libel. It’s also because, if you’re lucky, you get to tell the last story of someone you wish to God you could’ve met.

So it was yesterday, when word came that Jan Thayer had died. I talked to only a couple of people for the story, but, God, did I regret that I had to write about her in the past tense. Seventy-six innings in the struggle for quality care. Anyway, death be not proud and all that. (Bill Myers is Provider’s senior editor. Email him at wmyers@providermagazine.com. Follow him on Twitter, @ProviderMyers.)

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Filed under Long term care, Post-acute care

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