Hospitals raise alarm over sicker Medicare population Dec. 31, 2012.

Changes to the entitlement program’s care delivery and payment are needed to manage the growing number of seniors with multiple chronic diseases, analysts say.

Washington More Medicare patients are getting sicker and need higher-level treatments to manage their multiple chronic diseases, according to recent studies.

The trends mean that Medicare beneficiaries are consuming costlier services, in particular those delivered during inpatient hospital stays. Four out of five Medicare patients had at least one chronic condition in 2008, researchers with the American Hospital Assn. detailed in a December report. Two-thirds of beneficiaries had at least two chronic conditions.

Some of the trends are caused by lifestyle issues such as obesity, said Caroline Steinberg, AHA vice president of trends analysis. The percentage of obese seniors between 65 and 74 rose to 43% of men in 2009-10 from 24% in 1988-94. A similar increase, 45% up from 27%, was found in women in the same age bracket. Read more