The costs of dementia subtypes to California Medicare fee-for-service, 2015

Yingjia Chen, Leslie Wilson, John Kornak, R Adams Dudley, Jennifer Merrilees, Stephen J Bonasera, Christie M Byrne, Kirby Lee, Winston Chiong, Bruce L Miller, Katherine L Possin
Alzheimer's & Dementia: the Journal of the Alzheimer's Association 2019 June 4

INTRODUCTION: Dementia is among the costliest of medical conditions, but it is not known how these costs vary by dementia subtype.

METHODS: The effect of dementia diagnosis subtype on direct health care costs and utilization was estimated using 2015 California Medicare fee-for-service data. Potential drivers of increased costs in Lewy body dementia (LBD), in comparison to Alzheimer's disease, were tested.

RESULTS: 3,001,987 Medicare beneficiaries were identified, of which 8.2% had a dementia diagnosis. Unspecified dementia was the most common diagnostic category (59.6%), followed by Alzheimer's disease (23.2%). LBD was the costliest subtype to Medicare, on average, followed by vascular dementia. The higher costs in LBD were explained in part by falls, urinary incontinence or infection, depression, anxiety, dehydration, and delirium.

DISCUSSION: Dementia subtype is an important predictor of health care costs. Earlier identification and targeted treatment might mitigate the costs associated with co-occurring conditions in LBD.

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