Medical Care
Senior Health

A Healthier Picture for Medicare Patients

The health picture is brighter for older Medicare patients: In a 15-year study, Yale School of Medicine researchers saw an estimated 20% drop in mortality, about 30% fewer hospitalizations, and 40% reduction in deaths after hospitalization.

The findings were published In JAMA’s theme issue on Medicare and Medicaid at 50.

In the study, researchers took a comprehensive look at national trends in mortality, hospitalizations, outcomes, and expenditures from all causes from 1999 to 2013. They also analyzed data on 68,374,904 Medicare recipients 65 years of age or older from key demographic groups and geographic areas.

Among their discoveries: The team found that annual mortality rates from all causes across the Medicare population declined from 5.3% in 1999 to 4.5% in 2013. Among hospitalized fee-for-service beneficiaries, in-hospital mortality declined, as did 30-day and 1-year mortality.

“We are in the midst of a remarkable era of improvements in health and health care in America,” said lead author Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, the Harold H. Hines Jr. Professor of Medicine, professor of investigative medicine and of public health, and co-director of the Clinical Scholars Program. “This decline represents millions of hospitalizations averted and hundreds of thousands of deaths delayed.”

“The news should give us reassurance about our current efforts, but not make us complacent. We should seek to continue our advances in technology, health behaviors and policies, and quality of care — and seek to continue this remarkable trend,” Krumholz added.

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