Although it is understood that most health care spending is concentrated in a small segment of the population, we know little about the health problems these individuals have, the services they use, or whether any of this spending is avoidable. A detailed study of high-cost Medicare beneficiaries will begin to tease out the differences among subgroups—whether people newly diagnosed with cancer, those suffering a catastrophic event, or those experiencing an exacerbation of a chronic condition. The research team will identify patient-level predictors of high-cost status, examine major sources of spending, and determine the proportion of inpatient and emergency care that is potentially preventable. The study’s findings, which will lay the foundation for future work in this area, will help clinical leaders and policymakers target interventions more effectively for the most expensive patients and, possibly, identify ways to improve Medicare’s solvency.
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President and Fellows of Harvard College
Ashish K. Jha, M.D., M.P.H.