HealthDay News — Older adult Medicare beneficiaries with untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have increased health care utilization (HCU) and costs, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Emerson M. Wickwire, PhD, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the effect of untreated OSA on HCU and costs among a nationally representative 5 percent sample of Medicare administrative claims data for 2006 to 2013. Data were included for 287,191 patients, including 10,317 beneficiaries with OSA and 276,874 control patients.

The researchers found that during the year prior to OSA diagnosis, beneficiaries with OSA demonstrated increased HCU and higher mean total annual costs (adjusted marginal effect, $19,566) compared with matched control patients as well as higher mean annual costs across all individual points of service. Inpatient care correlated with the highest incremental costs and prescriptions correlated with the lowest incremental costs ($15,482 and $431 greater than control patients, respectively).

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“These results are generally consistent with and add a population health perspective to previous literature, thus highlighting the clinical and economic importance of OSA specifically among older adults,” the authors write. “Future research should seek to understand the effect of comorbid OSA as well as evaluate the economic effect of OSA treatments among older adults.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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