Health Spending Per Capita for
Elderly Grows Slowest Among All Age Groups in 2002-10
CMS actuary released annual National
Health Expenditure data: measures health care spending in U.S.
Health Spending by Age Group
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office
May 6, 2014 - Average annual growth
in per capita personal health care spending for the elderly was 4.1
percent from 2002 to 2010, the lowest among any other age groups
studied, according to a report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid
Services Office of the Actuary released yesterday and published in the
journal Health Affairs.
These estimates are a subset of the
annually-issued National Health Expenditure (NHE) data, which measures
health care spending in the United States. The report examines aggregate
and per-capita health spending by gender and major age groups.
Personal health care costs consist
of all the medical goods and services used to treat or prevent a
specific disease or condition in a specific person. As such, the
estimates of health spending by age and gender reflect the types of
goods and services delivered including hospital care, physician and
clinical services, retail prescription drugs, and the programs and
payers for that care, such as private health insurance, Medicare,
Overall, the authors of the report
found that growth in spending among groups over this time period varied,
especially during the recent recession. For instance, in 200810 the
largest difference in average spending growth between males and females
was for the working-age group (19-64). In this period per capita
spending growth for this group was 4.0 percent for males but 2.6 percent
for females. A 3.7 percent decline in the birth rate in the period may
be one of the causes: Growth in spending for females ages 1944 slowed
as they spent relatively less on maternity care.
However, the impact of the
recession on the elderly is less clear. Per capita spending growth for
this group in 200810 averaged just 2.4 percent annually, which was
lower than growth for the other age groups. Slower Medicare spending
and continued slow growth in spending for nursing care facilities and
continuing care retirement communities contributed to the low rate of
Also, private health insurance
spending per enrollee for those ages sixty-five and older grew slowly,
at 3.0 percent annually over the period - the slowest growth rate of
private health insurance among the major age groups. Out-of pocket
spending per person for the elderly declined 0.4 percent annually over
Highlights of the report
Spending for children on a per
capita basis grew more rapidly between 2002 and 2010 than the other
groups; however, aggregate spending for children grew at the slowest
rate at 5.7 percent as their share of the U.S. population declined.
The report also found that
personal health care spending for females ($7,860) in 2010 was about 25
percent more than males on a per capita basis, but the gap decreased
from a peak disparity of 29 percent in 2004.
Despite the lower rate of
growth among the elderly, per capita spending by the elderly in 2010
($18,424) continued to be about three times more than the average for
working adults ($6,125) and five times more than children ($3,628).
The Affordable Care Act, signed
into law in 2010, includes a number of provisions designed to increase
access to affordable health insurance coverage and slow the growth of
health care costs. Future releases of this biennial series will include
the effects on health spending data of provisions such as the
requirement for insurers to allow young adults to stay on their parents
plans until age 26, expanded Medicaid coverage, and the implementation
of the Health Insurance Marketplaces.