Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Disability and health care costs in the Medicare population.

Chan L, Beaver S, Maclehose RF, Jha A, Maciejewski M, Doctor JN. Disability and health care costs in the Medicare population. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation. 2002 Sep 1; 83(9):1196-201.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect of activity limitations on health care expenditures. DESIGN: Cross-sectional. SETTING: National survey. PARTICIPANTS: Data from the 1997 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (n = 9298), a nationally representative sample of community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries who were older than 64 years of age. INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The impact of patient disability on health care costs (inpatient, outpatient, skilled nursing facility, home health, medications). Activity limitations were determined by patient assessment of restrictions in activities of daily living (ADLs). RESULTS: Over 20% (n = 6,500,000) of the entire Medicare population had at least 1 health-related activity limitation. Total median health care costs per year (interquartile range [IQR]) increased as the number of these limitation increased (0 ADLs: $1934 [IQR, $801-$4761]; 1-2 ADLs: $4540 [IQR, $1744-$12,937]; 3-4 ADLs: $7589 [IQR, $2580-$23,149]; 5-6 ADLs: $14,399 [IQR, $5425-$33,014]). After adjusting for confounding characteristics including the impact of comorbid illnesses, Medicare enrollees incurred higher health care costs as their number of activity limitations increased (0 ADLs: cost ratio = 1.0; 1-2 ADLs: cost ratio = 1.4 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.2-1.6]; 3-4 ADLs: cost ratio = 1.6 [95% CI, 1.3-2.0]; 5-6 ADLs: cost ratio = 2.3 [95% CI, 1.7-3.2]). The cost increases were because of an increase in the frequency of all events (eg, hospital admissions, outpatient visits) rather than an increase in the intensity or cost of those events. In addition, with increasing activity limitations, there was a significant increase in the proportional impact of home health costs such that, for those with 5 or 6 limitations, home health costs exceeded the cost of outpatient visits. CONCLUSIONS: Activity limitation is an independent risk factor for increased health care costs and appears to be more than just a proxy for chronic illness.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.