, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 1835-1844
Date: 17 Dec 2010

Medical costs of osteoporosis in the elderly Medicare population

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Abstract

Summary

Prior national cost estimates of osteoporosis and fractures in the USA have been based on diverse sets of provider data or selected commercial insurance claims. Based on a random population-based sample of older adults, the US medical cost of osteoporosis and fractures is estimated at $22 billion in 2008.

Introduction

National cost estimates of osteoporosis and fractures in the USA have been based on diverse sets of provider data or selected commercial insurance claims. We sought to characterize prevalence and costs for osteoporosis using a random population-based sample of older adults.

Methods

A cross-sectional estimate of medical cost was made with 2002 data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS). MCBS combines health interviews with claims information from all payers to profile a random sample of 12,700 Medicare recipients. Three cohorts aged 65 or over were defined: (1) patients experiencing a fracture-related claim in 2002; (2) patients with a diagnosis, medication, or self-report for osteoporosis or past hip fracture; and (3) non-case controls. The total cost of patient claims was compared to that of controls using multiple regression.

Results

Of 30.2 million elderly Medicare recipients in 2002, 1.6 million (5%) were treated for a fracture that year, and an additional 7.2 million (24%) have osteoporosis without a fracture. The estimated mean impact of fractures on annual medical cost was $8,600 (95% confidence interval, $6,400 to $10,800), implying a US cost of $14 billion ($10 to $17 billion). Half of the non-fracture osteoporosis patients received drug treatment, averaging $500 per treated patient, or $2 billion nationwide.

Conclusions

The annual cost of osteoporosis and fractures in the US elderly was estimated at $16 billion, using a national 2002 population-based sample. This amount corroborates previous estimates based on substantially different methodologies. Projected to 2008, the national cost of osteoporosis and fractures was $22 billion.