Cost of schizophrenia in the Medicare program. Academic Article uri icon


  • Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with non-schizoaffective schizophrenia (MBS) in a 5% national Medicare fee-for-service sample from 2003-2007 were followed for 1-6 years. Medicare population and cost estimates also were made from 2001-2009. Service utilization and Medicare (and beneficiary share) payments for all services except prescription drugs were analyzed. Although adults with schizophrenia make up approximately 1% of the US adult population, they represent about 1.5% of Medicare beneficiaries. MBSs are disproportionately male and minority compared to national data describing the overall schizophrenia population. They also are younger than the general Medicare population (GMB): males are 9 years younger than females on average, and most enter Medicare long before age 65 through eligibility for social security disability, remaining in the program until death. The cost of care for MBSs in 2009 was, on average, 80% higher than for the average GMB per patient year (2010 dollars), and more than 50% of these costs are attributable to a combination of psychiatric and medical hospitalizations, concentrated in about 30% of MBSs with 1 or more hospitalizations per year. From 2004-2009, total estimated Medicare fee-for-service payments for MBSs increased from $9.4 billion to $11.5 billion, excluding Part D prescription drugs and payments for services to MBSs in Medicare for less than 1 year. Study results characterize utilization and costs for other services and suggest opportunities for further study to inform policy to improve access and continuity of care and decrease costs to the Medicare program associated with this population.

publication date

  • June 2014