Technological advances will inflate cost of Medicare, study finds

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The increasing use of the current technologies, as well as those on the horizon, will contribute to the soaring cost of medical care for the elderly and inflate Medicare spending, according to a RAND Corporation study.

Researchers estimated that if implantable defibrillators were planted into half of all patients with new cases of heart failure or heart attacks, healthcare spending on the elderly would increase by $14 billion (4%), over the next 10 years. Implantable defibrillators show promise in treating heart attacks and heart failure.

RAND researchers used a detailed model of Medicare spending to project what would happen under a number of scenarios. In particular, checked into 10 major medical technologies that are expected to come on the scene or be applied in the next 10 years. RAND is a nonprofit research group based in Santa Monica, CA.

Goldman and his colleagues point out that as people live longer, they spend more to maintain their health. But it is medical technologies, not demographics and health trends that will have the greatest impact on spending, researchers said.