Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions 99 times more likely to be hospitalized

Medicare beneficiaries with four or more chronic conditions such as asthma, arthritis, diabetes, or hypertension are 99 times more likely to experience one or more potentially preventable hospitalizations than those without a chronic condition, according to a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study is published in the November 11, 2002, edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine and is the first to evaluate on a nationwide scale the risk for incurring a potentially preventable hospitalization for people with chronic conditions.

"Our research shows that 82 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have at least one chronic condition, 65 percent have multiple chronic conditions and account for 95 percent of all Medicare expenditures," explained co-author Gerard Anderson, PhD, professor of health policy and management and international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Anderson is also national program director for Partnership for Solutions, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation national program to improve the care and quality of life of Americans with chronic health conditions. He added, "Many costly hospitalizations are preventable with better care and coordination of primary care services. Currently, our health care system is focused on providing acute care and not managing ongoing chronic conditions."

For the study, Dr. Anderson and colleagues, Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH, professor of health policy and management, and Jennifer L. Wolff, MHS, doctoral candidate in health services research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, analyzed the health records of 1.2 million randomly selected Medicare beneficiaries from 1999. All of the beneficiaries were age 65 or older and enrolled in fee-for-service coverage with both Medicare Part A and Part B.

After adjusting for the influence of age, gender, and other factors, the researchers found that the rate of preventable ho

Contact: Tim Parsons
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

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