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The Costs of Fall-Related Injuries among Older Adults: Annual Per-Faller, Service Component, and Patient Out-of-Pocket Costs

Objective: To estimate expenditures for fall-related injuries (FRIs) among older Medicare beneficiaries.

Data Sources: The 2007–2009 Medicare claims and 2008 Health and Retirement Study (HRS) data for 5,497 (228 FRI and 5,269 non-FRI) beneficiaries.

Study Design: FRIs were indicated by inpatient/outpatient ICD-9 diagnostic codes for fractures, trauma, dislocations, and by e-codes. A pre-post comparison group design was used to estimate the differential change in pre-post expenditures for the FRI relative to the non-FRI cohort (FRI expenditures). Out-of-pocket (OOP) costs, service category total annual FRI-related Medicare expenditures, expenditures related to the type of initial FRI treatment (inpatient, ED, outpatient), and the risk of persistently high expenditures (4th quartile for each post-FRI quarter) were estimated.

Principal Findings: Estimated FRI expenditures were $9,389 (95 percent CI: $5,969–$12,808). Inpatient, physician/outpatient, skilled nursing facility, and home health comprised 31, 18, 39, and 12 percent of the total. OOP costs were $1,363.0 (95 percent CI: $889-$1,837). Expenditures for FRIs initially treated in inpatient/ED/outpatient settings were $21,424/$6,142/$8,622. The FRI cohort had a 64 percent increased risk of persistently high expenditures. Total Medicare expenditures were $13 billion (95 percent CI: $9–$18 billion).

Conclusions: FRIs are associated with substantial, persistent Medicare expenditures. Cost-effectiveness of multifactorial falls prevention programs should be assessed using these expenditure estimates.

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