Chronic kidney disease costs US billions in Medicare spending: 5 things to know

A comprehensive new report on chronic kidney disease from the University of Virginia's Department of Public Health Sciences in Charlottesville found the condition affects nearly 14 percent of the U.S. population and costs billions in Medicare spending each year.

The research — which fills two massive volumes — was led by Rajesh Balkrishnan, PhD, of UVA. Data in the report were provided by the United States Renal Data System.

Highlighted below are five findings from the report.

1. In 2013, Medicare spending for end-stage renal disease, or kidney failure, rose to $31 billion, not including $50 billion spent on chronic kidney disease among those 65 and older.

2. Medicare Part D patients with chronic kidney disease spent roughly $3,675 in 2013 on prescription drugs, which is 46 percent higher than prescription spending for general Medicare patients ($2,509).

3. Prescription spending for Part D patients with kidney failure was considerably higher still: At $6,673 per patient per year, spending was 2.6 times higher than general Medicare patients. Dialysis patients spent the most, at $7,142 a year.

4. Spending for Part D-covered medications for chronic kidney disease patients who received Medicare's low-income subsidy, at $6,088, was more than twice as high than for those who didn't receive the subsidy, at $2,873. Patients who received the subsidy paid 1 to 20 percent in out-of-pocket costs, compared to patients who didn't receive the subsidy and paid 28 percent to 32 percent.

5. More than two-thirds (69.4 percent) of Medicare patients with chronic kidney disease and 74.2 percent of those with kidney failure were enrolled in Medicare Part D.

"This report is a one-stop shop to try to understand the prevalence of kidney disease, how it's being treated and how the burden affects various populations," said Dr. Balkrishnan. "If we can identify which treatment modalities are working and how they're used and link these treatments to outcomes, we can inform the government of the most cost-effective ways to manage and treat the growing burden of kidney disease in the U.S."

To access the full, two-volume report, click here.



More articles on nephrology:
How to boost kidney donations: Survey shows Americans want compensation
Statins before and after heart surgery may not reduce kidney complications as previously thought, study suggests
Research links PPIs with adverse outcomes related to the kidney

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