Skip Navigation

Health Policy & Management

Coping with Multiple Chronic Conditions

Eighty-three percent of Medicare beneficiaries have at least one chronic condition, such as congestive heart failure, Alzheimer's disease or diabetes.

Two-thirds of Medicare spending is incurred by the 9.5 million beneficiaries with five or more chronic conditions. These percentages suggest that the Medicare program needs to address chronic conditions rather than the acute, episodic illnesses that have been the focus of the Medicare program since it began in 1966. The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 began the process of transitioning Medicare into a chronic care program, but additional changes are needed to complete this reorientation.

“Significantly more needs to be done if the millions of Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions are going to get the best possible care,” said Gerard Anderson, PhD, a professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Health Policy and Management. He identified three steps that will further the transformation of the Medicare program toward better care for Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions. Anderson's article is published in the July 21, 2005, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Click here for more information.