Mortality rates, hospitalization rates and inpatient spending per beneficiary declined markedly for Medicare patients aged 65 and older between 1999 and 2013, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The annual death rate from all causes declined to 4.5% from 5.3% over the period, and the number of hospitalizations in the last six months of life decreased to 103 from 131 per 100 deaths. Average inpatient expenditures per fee-for-service beneficiary declined to $2,801 from $3,290, after adjusting for inflation. The findings were consistent across geographic and demographic groups. “Even though it is difficult to disentangle the specific reasons for improvement, it is clear that over the past 15 years there have been marked reductions in mortality, hospitalization and adverse hospital outcomes among the Medicare population aged 65 years or older,” the authors write.