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New MEPS Statistical Brief examines the level of health expenditures over time

Research Activities, April 2009

A new analysis by AHRQ's Steven B. Cohen, Ph.D., and William Yu, M.A., found that the top 10 percent of Americans, in terms of the cost of treating their health problems, accounted for about 64 percent of medical care spending in both 2005 and 2006. About 45 percent of the 12 million people in this top 10 percent were age 65 or older, and 36 percent were between 45 and 64 years of age.

The AHRQ researchers also found that roughly 81 percent were non-Hispanic whites, 11 percent were non-Hispanic blacks, 7 percent Hispanics, and under 2 percent Asian or Pacific Islanders, while women comprised about 60 percent of the overall group. Of those under 65 years of age, approximately 65 percent had private health insurance, 33 percent had public-only insurance, and 2.5 percent were uninsured in 2006. The researchers further found that about 35 percent were high income, 26 percent middle income, 16 percent poor, 13 percent low income, and 9.5 percent were near poor. The analysis focused on community-dwelling people. AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the basis for this analysis, does not include people in nursing homes or other institutions.

For further information, including data on other tiers ranked by expenditures, such as the top 1 percent or bottom 50 percent, as well as changes in the composition of these groups between 2005 and 2006, go to MEPS Statistical Brief No. 236: The Concentration and Persistence in the Level of Health Expenditures over Time: Estimates for the U.S. Population, 2005-2006.

Current as of April 2009
Internet Citation: New MEPS Statistical Brief examines the level of health expenditures over time: Research Activities, April 2009. April 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.