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A new AHRQ report examines how U.S. health care expenses are distributed

A new Research In Action publication focuses on the patterns of spending on health care throughout the United States. Health care spending is distributed unevenly across individuals, different segments of the population, specific diseases, and payers. For example, analysis of health care spending shows that the 5 percent of the population who spent the most on health care accounted for 49 percent of total health care expenses in 2002. The 50 percent of the population with the lowest expenses accounted for only 3 percent of overall spending. Further detailed analyses of these spending patterns, how they change over time, and how they affect different payers such as Medicare, Medicaid, private insurers, employers, and consumers convey important information on how to best target efforts to contain rapidly rising health care costs. Much of the information included in this report comes from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

For more information, go to The High Concentration of U.S. Health Care Expenditures at http://www.ahrq.gov/research/ria19/expendria.htm. Printed copies are also available directly from AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse (AHRQ Publication No. 06-0060).

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