A study by UC San Francisco researchers reports the total costs of cigarette smoking to the Medicare program amounted to $20.5 billion in 1997.
"This is the first study that documents the smoking-attributable costs to Medicare that are now part of the Federal lawsuit against the tobacco industry," said Xiulan Zhang, PhD, lead author and research analyst in the UCSF Institute for Health & Aging.
Zhang and co-researchers reported the finding in the Summer 1999 issue of Health Care Financing Review, released September 29.
"Our estimates for 1997 smoking-related costs to the Medicare program are only one out of 30 years of payments by the Medicare program for aged and disabled persons who have suffered from smoking-related diseases, suggesting that the aggregate Medicare payments over the 30 years could have exceeded $600 billion in current dollars," said Dorothy Rice, ScD, co-author and professor emeritus of medical economics in the UCSF Institute for Health & Aging.
UCSF and UC Berkeley researchers have been studying the economic effects of smoking on health care for the past five years. Researchers previously examined the impact of smoking on Medicaid costs as well as total health care costs.
In the current study, UCSF and UC Berkeley researchers estimated 1993 national and state smoking costs to the Medicare program. The 1993 cost estimates were updated to1997 based on the increase in Medicare expenditures. Medicare covers part of the medical expenses of 34 million Americans age 65 and over and 5.5 million persons with disabilities.
Researchers used economic models that examine the relationship between smoking history, smoking related disease, self-reported health status, and medical costs, according to Zhang.
The researchers found the total cost of smoking to the nation in 1993 amounted
to $72.7 billion. Of this total, the cost of smoking to Medicare amounted to
$14.2 billion (9.4 percent of total Medicare costs). California had
Contact: Lordelyn P. del Rosario
University of California - San Francisco