Estimates of national health care expenditures associated with disability
This week in the UK a Tory MP caused an uproar hitting the headlines with a suggested policy that disabled people should be allowed to work for less than the minimum wage arguing it offers them better opportunities to join the workforce. Many groups representing disabled people far and wide retorted in disgust at the idea such vulnerable people should be exploited illegally and immorally as a source of cheap labor. At this difficult time of necessary global cuts the disabled demographic seem to be heavily scrutinized with the conclusion often being they are a costly burden. This article examines the total health care dollars associated with disability and recommends that policy makers should consider initiatives that will help to prevent or delay disability and to improve the organization and delivery of services to people with disabilities.
We estimated adult national health care expenditures associated with disability by type of care and payer. These estimates represent the “additional” health care expenditures associated with disability over and above any non-disability-related health care expenditures. Multivariate analyses were performed using the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, and supplemented with administrative data. Total national disability-associated health care expenditures (DAHE) were $397.9 billion in 2006, representing 26.7 percent of national health spending. Expenditures for people in institutions, such as nursing facilities, were the largest category of DAHE. In terms of source of payment, Medicaid DAHE were the highest at $161.1 billion, followed by Medicare DAHE with $119.0 billion. Together, the Medicare and Medicaid programs incurred 70.4 percent of total health care dollars associated with disability. Policy makers should consider initiatives that will help to prevent or delay disability and to improve the organization and delivery of services to people with disabilities.
Anderson, W., Wiener, J., Finkelstein, E., & Armour, B. (2011). Estimates of National Health Care Expenditures Associated With Disability Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 21 (4), 230-240 DOI: 10.1177/1044207310391407