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Per-capita health care spending for seniors has increased by nearly a third

Research Activities, October 2009

Spending to treat the health problems of Americans aged 65 and older increased by about $2,000 for every senior who used health services between 1996 and 2006, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Average, inflation-adjusted spending for senior health care expenses rose from $6,989 in 1996 to $9,080 in 2006. AHRQ's study covered all Americans aged 65 and older with health care expenses, other than those residing in nursing homes and other institutions.

The Agency also found significant increases in average spending for seniors on the following types of health care during the 10-year period (in 2006 dollars):

  • Per prescription drug purchase-from $105 to $174 (66 percent).
  • Physician office visit-from $114 to $180 per visit (58 percent).
  • Dental visit-from $187 to $254 per visit (36 percent).
  • Daily hospital stay-from $2,271 to $2,714 per day (20 percent).

These findings are based on analysis of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, how often they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid. For details, go to Trends in Health Care Expenditures for the Elderly Age 65 and Older: 2006 versus 1996.

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Current as of October 2009
Internet Citation: Per-capita health care spending for seniors has increased by nearly a third: Research Activities, October 2009. October 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/research-activities/oct09/1009RA28.html