Study Links Medical Spending to Life Expectancy Gains
||A new study looks at medical spending and increased life
expectancy between 1960 and 2000 and determines that medical expenses provide
reasonable value. The study, to be published in the August 31, 2006, New
England Journal of Medicine, was funded by the National Institute
on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the
||Between 1960 and 2000, life expectancy increased by seven
years. In the past 20 years, costs for each year of life gained have increased
markedly, particularly in older age groups. Current trends suggest that
the value of health care spending as measured by additional years of life
may be decreasing over time, particularly in people over 65, the authors
conclude. In the new study, David M. Cutler, Ph.D., and colleagues attempt
to understand the value of the medical system as a whole by examining the
relationship between medical spending and gains in survival.
“The National Institutes of Health has conducted and funded research
that has led to important biomedical advances and to subsequent gains
in years of life,” says Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., director of the NIH. “As
we face a boom in the numbers of older people, it is critical that we
more rigorously understand the real value of these advances.”
"The growing numbers of older Americans is a story that we can be proud
of, and medical expenditures have played an increasingly important role
in this success," says Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., Director of the Behavioral
and Social Research Program at the NIA. Further, Suzman points out, "If
the study had been able to factor in the improved functioning and quality
of life of older people, the value of such medical spending would have
looked even better, especially for the older population."
However, he adds, the study is a cautionary note. "This research also suggests
that we must redouble efforts to use health care dollars more efficiently,
and urgently focus on discovering new ways to reduce disability and prevent
diseases such as Alzheimer's as the baby boom ages."
|| Richard Suzman, Ph.D., Director, Behavioral and Social
Research Program, NIA.
||NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research
on aging and the medical, social and behavioral issues of older people.
For more information on research and aging, go to www.nia.nih.gov.
The public may also obtain information on health and aging by calling 1-800-222-2225.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for
conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and
it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.
For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.