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Spending for Office-based Medical and Dental Care

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: June 6, 2006

Insurers, government agencies, and patients spent a total of $896 billion on health care for the noninstitutionalized U.S. civilian population in 2003, according to Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The following are estimates of total expenditures for select types of office-based services, the percentage of people requiring such expenses, and the average annual expenditures (for those with expenses), respectively:

Type of Service Total Expenditure % of People Requiring Expense Average Annual Expenditure
Physicians $130.7 billion 68 percent $663
General dentists $48.6 billion 40 percent $417
Orthodontists $10.4 billion 2.2 percent $1,646
Nurses or nurse practitioners $7.7 billion 9.3 percent $284
Optometrists $2 billion 6.0 percent $119
Physical or occupational therapists $8.8 billion 2.6 percent $1,140
Chiropractors $5.5 billion 4.2 percent $448

These statistics are based on the 2003 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and were abstracted from the MEPS 2003 Compendium of Tables on Medical Expenditures, available on the MEPS Web site.

This AHRQ News and Numbers summary is based on details in The Persistence in the Level of Health Expenditures over Time: Estimates for the U.S. Population, 2002-2003, available on AHRQ's MEPS site at (PDF Help).

The MEPS Compendium of Tables also contains various other types of health care expenditure estimates and service categories, as well as breakdowns of the data by age, gender, race/ethnicity, health insurance status, and other characteristics.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with a MEPS researcher about the findings, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.


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


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