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Medicare beneficiaries who require assistance with three or more activities of daily living account for up to one-quarter of all Medicare Part A and B spending. This despite the fact they constitute only 7% of the Medicare population, according to a new analysis.

These beneficiaries consume roughly $18,902 each—nearly 4.5 times as much as beneficiaries without disabilities, a new report from Avalere Health finds. Post-acute care services and some other Medicare services that transition beneficiaries from acute to long-term care settings may be soaking up Medicare funds, according to the report. Palliative and hospice care services, both covered by Medicare, experienced significant increases in length of stay between 2000 and 2005 for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. This suggests that these services are filling a gap in long-term care for demanding beneficiaries.

“We were surprised to see the extent to which elderly with severe disabilities consume a much higher amount of medical care resources compared to people without disabilities,” report author Anne Tumlinson, senior advisor with Avalere Health, told McKnight’s. “This is the first time data has explicitly shown the connection between having difficulty performing daily activities and high medical costs,” she said.

Avalere Health conducted the study on behalf of The SCAN Foundation. For more information, visit