A new study has found that death rate, hospital stays and medical costs have all went down for senior adults between the years of 1999 and 2013. It’s a refreshing piece of news as the US health care system typically finds its way into the media when something goes wrong.
The researchers themselves were please yet surprised by the finding. Dr. Harlan Krumholz, lead researcher and professor of medicine from Yale University’s School of Medicine, gave a statement saying that “The declines were steady throughout the study period. The trends are actually pretty jaw-dropping”.
He went on to add that as researchers, he and his colleagues usually focus on detecting deficiencies in the health care system so that they can try to improve things. But what this often does is give them the impression that America has a terrible health care system.
Dr. Krumholz and his team started the study with the goal of finding out whether or not the national efforts were paying off in regards to improving the quality of health care and the quality of public health.
They started out the study by looking at the Medicare fee-for-service program as this offered them the most data. A statistic from 2013 showed that 71 percent (71%) of all Medicare beneficiaries used the fee-for-service program.
The United States Government Accountability Office informs that this program has doctors and hospitals write Medicare bills for each individual treatment and service.
But the researchers also managed to examine the death rate among beneficiaries of other Medicare programs such as Medicare Advantage. What they found was that the decline was similar to that of beneficiaries from the Medicare fee-for-service program.
While the study only reveals what’s happening, and not why, Dr. Krumholz and his team have their theories. For instance one major finding is that the management of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other chronic health conditions has improved in recent years.
This makes logical sense as many studies have found that Americans are becoming more and more health-conscious to the point where they’ve started making lifestyle changes. Obesity is still not going anywhere, but smoking rates have gone down noticeably and an increasing number of people are regularly going to the gym.
Another important fact is that the United States has started spending a lot of money on health care over the course of the study. Louise Sheiner, a senior expert in economic studies from the Brookings Institution (Washington, D.C.), gave a statement claiming that “We don’t know if we would’ve seen the same changes if we’d spent less on health care”.
Overall, the death rate went from being 5.3 percent (5.3%) in 1999 to being 4.5 percent (4.5%) in 2013, both in as well as out of hospitals.
Hospital stay went from being 35.000 per 100.000 on a yearly basis to being 27.000 per 100.000 on a yearly basis, while inpatient spending went from being $3.300 per person back in 1999 to being $2.800 in 2013.
The study was published earlier this week, on Monday (July 28, 2015) in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Image Source: modernseniormagazine.com