Compare expenditures of fall-related injuries (FRIs) using several methods to identify FRIs in administrative claims data.
Using 2007–2009 Medicare claims and 2008 Health and Retirement Survey data, FRIs were identified using external-cause-of-injury (e-codes 880/881/882/884/885/888) only, e-codes plus a broad set of primary diagnosis codes, and a newer approach using e-codes and diagnostic and procedural codes. Linear regression models adjusted for sociodemographic, health, and geographic characteristics were used to estimate per-FRI, service component, patient cost share, expenditures by type of initial FRI treatment (inpatient, emergency department only, outpatient), and total annual FRI-related Medicare expenditures.
The analysis included 5497 community-dwelling adults ≥65 (228 FRI, 5269 non-FRI individuals) with continuous Medicare coverage and alive during the 24-month study.
The 3 FRI identification methods produced differing distributions of index FRI type and varying estimated expenditures: $12,171 [95% confidence interval (CI), $4662–$19,680], $5648 (95% CI, $3819–$7476), and $9388 (95% CI, $5969–$12,808). In all models, most spending occurred in hospital, outpatient, and skilled nursing facility (SNF) settings, but greater proportions of SNF and outpatient spending were observed with commonly used FRI identification methods. Patient cost-sharing was estimated at $691–$1900 across the 3 methods. Inpatient-treated index FRIs were more expensive than emergency department and outpatient-treated FRIs across all methods, but were substantially higher when identifying FRI using only e-codes. Estimated total FRI-related Medicare expenditures were highly variable across methods.
FRIs are costly, with implications for Medicare and its beneficiaries. However, expenditure estimates vary considerably based on the method used to identify FRIs.