Changing age-mix has modest effect on spending growth, study finds

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While it might seem surprising, the expanding ranks of older Americans have not made a big impact on healthcare spending growth, a new study finds.

Per capita healthcare spending has grown faster for those under age 65 than those age 65 and older, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Experts detailed their information today in a Health Affairs Web Exclusive. Per-person personal healthcare spending for those age 65 and older was $14,797 in 2004 - still higher than both spending per child and spending per working-age person.

Perhaps most startling: Among the elderly, spending for the 85-and-older population declined the most, relative to the working age population, from 1987 to 2004. The slowdown was largely due to the low (0.7% per capita) annual growth in nursing home costs. Such a finding comes as states are offering home- and community-based housing alternatives as a way to offset nursing home costs.