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Determinants of health care costs in the senior elderly: age, comorbidity, impairment, or proximity to death?

Author

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  • Nisha C. Hazra

    (King’s College London)

  • Caroline Rudisill

    (London School of Economics and Political Science)

  • Martin C. Gulliford

    (King’s College London
    National Institutes for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ National Health Service Foundation Trust)

Abstract

Ageing is assumed to be accompanied by greater health care expenditures but the association is also viewed as a ‘red herring’. This study aimed to evaluate whether age is associated with health care costs in the senior elderly, using electronic health records for 98,220 participants aged 80 years and over registered with the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink and linked Hospital Episode Statistics (2010–2014). Annual costs of health care utilization were estimated from a two-part model; multiple fractional polynomial models were employed to evaluate the non-linear association of age with predicted health care costs while also controlling for comorbidities, impairments, and death proximity. Annual health care costs increased from 80 years (£2972 in men, £2603 in women) to 97 (men; £4721) or 98 years (women; £3963), before declining. Costs were significantly elevated in the last year of life but this effect declined with age, from £10,027 in younger octogenarians to £7021 in centenarians. This decline was steeper in participants with comorbidities or impairments; £14,500 for 80–84-year-olds and £6752 for centenarians with 7+ impairments. At other times, comorbidity and impairments, not age, were main drivers of costs. We conclude that comorbidities, impairments, and proximity to death are key mediators of age-related increases in health care costs. While the costs of comorbidity among survivors are not generally associated with age, additional costs in the last year of life decline with age.

Suggested Citation

  • Nisha C. Hazra & Caroline Rudisill & Martin C. Gulliford, 2018. "Determinants of health care costs in the senior elderly: age, comorbidity, impairment, or proximity to death?," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 19(6), pages 831-842, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:eujhec:v:19:y:2018:i:6:d:10.1007_s10198-017-0926-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s10198-017-0926-2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joan Costa‐Font & Cristina Vilaplana‐Prieto, 2020. "‘More than one red herring'? Heterogeneous effects of ageing on health care utilisation," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(S1), pages 8-29, October.
    2. Murat Gündüz, 2020. "Healthcare expenditure and carbon footprint in the USA: evidence from hidden cointegration approach," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 21(5), pages 801-811, July.
    3. Jonas Krämer & Jonas Schreyögg, 2019. "Demand-side determinants of rising hospital admissions in Germany: the role of ageing," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 20(5), pages 715-728, July.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health care costs; Electronic health records; Elderly; Ageing; Ecological fallacy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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