New Medicare beneficiaries who have previously been uninsured — particularly those with diabetes or cardiovascular disease — cost the Medicare program significantly more than those who were insured earlier, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
According to researchers, the costs associated with treating chronic disease complications are much greater than the costs of routine disease management or prevention. Because most previously uninsured enrollees tend to comply with physician visits and medical procedures once they are eligible, researchers believe they probably would have addressed their health problems earlier had they been insured.
As a group, the previously uninsured make more doctor visits, incur more hospitalizations and generate higher total medical costs once in enrolled in the program than do their previously insured counterparts. The study concludes that the cost of covering people with Medicare at an earlier age may be offset by savings if these expensive disease complications can be avoided.
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