Age Differences in the Association between Body Mass Index Class and Annualized Medicare Expenditures

Daniel O. Clark, Kathleen A. Lane, Roberta Ambuehl, Wanzhu Tu, Chiung Ju Liu, Kathleen Unroe, Christopher M. Callahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Objective: The aim of the study is to assess the relationship between body mass index (BMI) class and Medicare claims among young-old (65-69), old (70-74), and old-old (75+) adults over a 10-year period. Method: We assessed costs by BMI class and age group among 9,300 respondents to the 1998 Health and Retirement Study (HRS) with linked 1998-2008 Medicare claims data. BMI was classified as normal (18.5-24.9), overweight (25-29.9), mild obesity (30-34.9), or severe obesity (35 or above). Results: Annualized total Medicare claims adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, education, and smoking history were 109% greater for severely obese young-old adults in comparison with normal weight young-old adults (US$9,751 vs. US$4,663). Total annualized claim differences between the normal weight and severely obese in the old and old-old groups were not statistically significant. Discussion: Excess Medicare expenditures related to obesity may be concentrated among severely obese young-old adults. Preventing severe obesity among middle and older aged adults may have large cost implications for society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-179
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Medicare
  • expenditures
  • obesity
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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