Changes in Medicare Expenditures Associated with Overweight and Obesity, 1997-2006

Dawn Alley, University of Maryland
Bruce Stuart, University of Maryland
Jennifer Lloyd, University of Maryland
Thomas Shaffer, University of Maryland

Recent research suggests conflicting secular trends in the health of the older obese population, with some health indicators improving and others declining. Little research has examined how obesity-related health care spending has changed over time. Using data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Surveys conducted from 1997-2006, we examine whether time trends in Medicare and prescription drug expenditures differ for overweight and obese beneficiaries relative to normal weight beneficiaries. We find that Medicare Part A & B expenditures have increased for all weight groups over time, but expenditures increased significantly faster for overweight and obese beneficiaries. Increases in the prevalence of weight-related chronic conditions appear to account for this trend.

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Presented in Session 110: Trends and Dynamics in Health and Disability in Later Life