Published abstract

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

Published on 1 September 2017

Hazra, N. C.,Rudisill, C.,Gulliford, M. C.

Eur J Health Econ , 2017

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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 ( pound2972 in men, pound2603 in women) to 97 (men; pound4721) or 98 years (women; pound3963), before declining. Costs were significantly elevated in the last year of life but this effect declined with age, from pound10,027 in younger octogenarians to pound7021 in centenarians. This decline was steeper in participants with comorbidities or impairments; pound14,500 for 80-84-year-olds and pound6752 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.