The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates global spending on healthcare at $6.5 trillion, approximately 10.5% of the world’s gross domestic product. The United States’ (US) share of that spending is $2.6 trillion, essentially quadrupling since 1980. The 2010 United States Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, has stimulated extensive debate over the way in which healthcare is financed, and whether or not the costs of healthcare are sustainable. Among publicly funded healthcare in the US, Medicaid and Medicare are primary sources of funding. In federal fiscal year 2012, Medicaid spending on acute health exceeded $275.4 billion, while a further $122.7 billion expended in Medicaid long term services and supports. The impact of an aging population worldwide (the so-called “wave of wisdom”), as the Baby Boomer generation reaches senior status, and attendant increases in chronic conditions, will be a substantial driver of healthcare costs in the future.

Among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), cost estimates vary depending on a range of factors. Some children with IDD, for example, are covered for at least some healthcare needs by private insurance policies held by their parents, while other children and most adults with IDD rely heavily on Medicaid and, to a lesser extent, Medicare and other publicly financed healthcare options. In many US states, certain nursing and home health services are presumed to be part of funding of home and community-based service (HCBS) medicaid waiver services (typically considered part of residential service reimbursements under these waivers), and rely on medicaid state plans for other acute health services. There are also wide ranges of estimates of uncompensated care that, when combined with other variables that are difficult to control, make accurate aggregate cost estimates difficult. Birenbaum and Cohen offer a review of healthcare utilization and costs in general for people with IDD.

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Published in Frontiers in Public Health, v. 2, article 160, p. 1-3.

© 2014 Ervin and Merrick. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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