Objectives To examine Medicare health care spending and health services utilization among high-need population segments in older Mexican Americans, and to examine the association of frailty on health care spending and utilization. Methods Retrospective cohort study of the innovative linkage of Medicare data with the Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly (H-EPESE) were used. There were 863 participants, which contributed 1,629 person years of information. Frailty, cognition, and social risk factors were identified from the H-EPESE, and chronic conditions were identified from the Medicare file. The Cost and Use file was used to calculate four categories of Medicare spending on: hospital services, physician services, post-acute care services, and other services. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) with a log link gamma distribution and first order autoregressive, correlation matrix was used to estimate cost ratios (CR) of population segments, and GEE with a logit link binomial distribution was applied to estimate odds ratios (OR) of healthcare use. Results Participants in the major complex chronic illness segment who were also pre-frail or frail had higher total costs and utilization compared to the healthy segment. The CR for total Medicare spending was 3.05 (95% CI, 2.48-3.75). Similarly, this group had higher odds of being classified in the high-cost category 5.86 (95% CI, 3.35-10.25), nursing home care utilization 11.32 (95% CI, 3.88-33.02), hospitalizations 4.12 (95% CI, 2.88-5.90) and emergency room admissions 4.24 (95% CI, 3.04-5.91). Discussion Our findings highlight that frailty assessment is an important consideration when identifying high-need and high-cost patients.
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