Healthcare spending for older adults is significant, including the cost of care for eating disorders, according to a recent study at Johns Hopkins School of Health and Columbia University School of Medicine. The study analyzed prevalence, sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, and healthcare spending among a large group of Medicare enrollees (Int J Eat Disord. 2022. Jan 13. doi:10.1002/eat.23676. Published online before print).
After analyzing data from nearly 12 million Medicare enrollees, the researchers found that 0.15% had EDs, compared to those without an ED diagnosis. In a 2016 analysis, a greater proportion of individuals with an ED were female than were male (73.8% vs. 54.3%, respectively), younger than 65 (41.6% vs. 15.5% respectively), and were dually eligible for Medicaid because of disability or low income (48.0% vs. 19.6%, respectively). In the more recent analysis, Dr. Rachel Presskreischer and colleagues reported that older Americans with EDs also had higher rates of comorbid conditions than those without EDs, especially cardiac arrhythmias (35.3% vs. 19.9%, respectively), arthritis (40.1% vs. 25.6%, respectively), and thyroid conditions (32.2% vs. 19.4%, respectively). Overall, spending was more than three times higher for Medicare enrollees with EDs compared to those without ED diagnoses: $29,456 as opposed to $7,418, respectively.