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Increasing BMD could save Medicare $15 million

New Orleans, La., October 25, 2002 Data presented here in a plenary session at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology estimate that a modest 10 percent increase in bone mineral density (BMD) testing to detect osteoporosis could save Medicare $15.5 million over three years. Projected medical cost savings of $32.3 million would offset the extra cost of testing.

It is estimated that in 2001 only 12 percent (or 1.8 million of 14.9 million) of women aged 65 and older with osteoporosis or osteopenia (low bone mass) received a Medicare-reimbursed BMD test to detect the disease. The study presented today projects that testing 180,000 (or just 10 percent) additional women with osteoporosis or osteopenia would reduce the incidence of osteoporotic fractures at the hip, spine and wrist by more than 6,500 over three years and result in net Medicare savings.

"The vast majority of the women over age 65 at risk of osteoporotic fracture remain undiagnosed and untreated," said Kenneth Saag, M.D., Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an author of this study. "Medicare savings from avoided fractures could be used to subsidize patient costs, education and other interventions that have been shown to increase overall osteoporosis diagnosis and treatment rates. This would ultimately prevent more fractures and provide patient benefit while further reducing Medicare costs."

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 1.5 million osteoporosis fractures occur in the United States each year, and 80 percent of these occur in postmenopausal women.

About the Study

The study estimated the Medicare budget impact of a 10 percent increase in BMD testing in 2001 in women age 65 and older with osteoporosis or osteopenia. Cost and fracture outcomes were assessed over three years (2001-2003). For the osteopenic women tested,
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25-Oct-2002


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