Estimating the Economic Burden Related to Older Adult Falls by State
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Estimating the Economic Burden Related to Older Adult Falls by State

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  • Alternative Title:
    J Public Health Manag Pract
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  • Description:

    Unintentional falls in older adults (persons 65 and older) impose a significant economic burden on the healthcare system. Methods for calculating state specific healthcare costs are limited. This study describes two methods to estimate state-level direct medical spending due to older adult falls and explains their differences, advantages and limitations.


    The first method, partial attributable fraction, applied a national attributable fraction to the total state health expenditure accounts in 2014 by payer type (Medicare, Medicaid, and Private Insurance). The second method, count applied to cost, obtained 2014 state counts of older adults treated and released from an emergency department and hospitalized due to a fall injury. The counts in each state were multiplied by the national average lifetime medical costs for a fall-related injury from the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Costs are reported in 2014 US-dollars.


    United States.


    Older adults.

    Main Outcome Measure:

    Health expenditure on older adult falls by state.


    The estimate from the partial attributable fraction method was higher than the estimate from the count applied to cost method for all states compared, except Utah. Based on the partial attributable fraction method, in 2014, total personal healthcare spending for older adult falls ranged from $48 million in Alaska to $4.4 billion in California. Medicare spending attributable to older adult falls ranged from $22 million in Alaska to $3.0 billion in Florida. For the count applied to cost method, available for 17 states, the lifetime medical costs of 2014 fall-related injuries ranged from $68 million in Vermont to $2.8 billion in Florida.


    The two methods offer states options for estimating the economic burden attributable to older adult fall injuries. These estimates can help states make informed decisions about how to allocate funding to reduce falls and promote healthy aging.

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