Objectives This study aims to evaluate the differences in the cumulative benefit costs of public long-term care [LTC] insurance services, using a risk assessment scale score, which predicts incident functional disability among older people.Methods A baseline survey was conducted in 2010 involving individuals aged 65 and above from 12 municipalities in Japan who were not eligible for public LTC insurance benefits (response rate: 64.7%). Using public LTC claim records, we followed LTC service costs among 46,616 individuals over a period of about six years (up to 76 months). We used risk assessment scales to assess incident functional disability (0-48). We adopted a classical linear regression model, Tobit regression model, and linear regression with multiple imputation for missing values.Results Overall, 7,348 (15.8%) of the participants had used LTC services during the follow-up period. The risk assessment score for incident functional disability was positively associated with the cumulative costs of LTC services per person, length of usage period of LTC services, and proportion of people certified for long-term care/support need and for over long-term care level 2. After adjusting for confounding variables, the six-year cumulative costs of LTC services were around JPY 31.6 thousand higher per point of risk score (95% confidence interval [CI]: 28.3 to 35.0). The costs were around JPY 8.9 thousand (95%CI: 6.5 to 11.3) higher in the low score group (risk score ≤ 16), and JPY 75.3 thousand (95%CI: 67.4 to 83.1) higher in the high score group (risk score ≥ 17). When we adopted other estimated models, the major results and trends were not largely different.Conclusions In this study, the risk assessment scale score could estimate subsequent LTC benefit costs. Community interventions to improve and maintain variable aspects of risk assessment scores may help contribute to a reduction in public LTC benefits within municipalities.
Keywords: leading indicator; long-term care benefit; long-term care prevention; long-term care receipt data; older adults; risk assessment scales for incident functional disability.