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Health Care Spending Increases for Middle-Age Americans

AHRQ News and Numbers, October 15, 2009

AHRQ News and Numbers provides statistical highlights on the use and cost of health services and health insurance in the United States.

Total health care expenses for Americans age 45 to 64 in 2006 ($370 billion) were about double the inflation-adjusted total for 1996 ($187 billion), according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). AHRQ's study covers all Americans age 45 to 64 other than those residing in nursing homes and other institutions.

The Federal agency also found that during this period:

  • The proportion of people age 45 to 64 who incurred medical expenses did not change (about 89 percent), but average annual health care expenses for those with expenses increased from $3,849 (after adjusting for inflation) to $5,455.
  • Prescribed medicines were a substantially higher proportion of total expenses in 2006 compared to 1996 (25 percent and 15 percent, respectively).
  • The proportion of total expenses for hospital inpatient care decreased from 36 percent to 26 percent.
  • The average expense per service rendered also increased significantly (in 2006 dollars):
  • Physician office visit—$128 to $207
  • Inpatient hospital day—$3,005 to $3,491
  • Emergency room visit—$563 to $947
  • Dental visit—$195 to $265
  • Prescription medicines—$103 to $199

AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, improves the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid. For more information, go to Trends in Health Care Expenditures for Adults Ages 45-64: 2006 versus 1996 at

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Melva Nowell at (301) 427-1239.

Current as of October 2012
Internet Citation: Health Care Spending Increases for Middle-Age Americans: AHRQ News and Numbers, October 15, 2009. October 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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