Spending on younger patients best healthcare value

A new study by University of Michigan researchers concludes that the healthcare industry might get far more bang for its buck spending more on younger rather than older populations.

The study, published in the Michigan Journal of Public Affairs, contends the notion that spending more money on people in their later years to prolong overall life expectancy is a good value.

"Today in the United States, we are having essential conversations about the value of healthcare. As a primary care doctor, I am concerned that older patients may not be getting much value from relatively expensive healthcare they are receiving, compared with benefits experienced by younger adults and children for lower amounts of healthcare spending," Matthew Davis, M.D., the University of Michigan public policy and medicine professor who was the study's lead author, said in an announcement.

According to the study, patients gain a year of life expectancy with an investment of $24 in healthcare spending on infants and children to avoid chronic conditions and other indicators of morbidity--versus a cost of nearly $2,700 for someone over the age of 85.

Moreover, the older the individual is, the less they perceive the value of the additional life expectancy.

However, given the nation's aging population, spending will continue to rise on older patients--particularly to combat chronic conditions.

To learn more:
- read the study (.pdf)
- read the announcement

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