Tuesday, August 24, 2010

BLS Examines Trend in Health Care Spending

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Health Care Spending: 1998, 2003, and 2008

How have rising health care costs affected household budgets? That question was raised many times before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, whose goal—as the act’s name implies—is to make health care more affordable for American families.[1] This analysis of Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) data from the 1998, 2003, and 2008 Interview Surveys provides a picture of nominal out-of-pocket health care spending among households categorized by the age of the reference person.[2] The expenses analyzed were total health care and its components: health insurance, medical services, prescription drugs, and medical supplies. Among the findings are the following:

  • Among households nationwide with medical expenses, the mean share of a household’s total budget spent on health care was higher in 2003 than in 1998 and was virtually unchanged in 2008 compared with 2003.
  • Households’ spending changed over the decade. In 2008, the mean share of medical expenses that was spent on health insurance was higher than in 1998, and the share spent on medical services was lower.
  • Households whose reference person was 65 or older spent about twice as much of their budget on health care compared with the national average in all years studied.

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