Federal government notes slowdown in nursing home spending

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Decreased payouts for nursing home care was one reason that healthcare spending grew more slowly for seniors than for any other age group between 2002 and 2010, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Monday.

Average annual growth in per capita healthcare spending was about 4% for the elderly during the eight-year period studied, according to the CMS Office of the Actuary. The average growth rate for the recession years of 2008 to 2010 was 2.4% annually, which also was lower than for any other age group.

“Slower Medicare spending and continued slow growth in spending for nursing care facilities and continuing care retirement communities contributed to the low rate of growth,” CMS noted. Spending on private health insurance also slowed.

To compile the “US Health Spending Trends By Age And Gender: Selected Years 2002–10” report, analysts used National Health Expenditure data to break down spending on medical goods and services along demographic lines.

While seniors' spending growth was slower than for other age groups, their per capita spending still was about three times higher than that of working age adults, the Office of the Actuary determined.

Findings appear in Health Affairs.

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