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AHRQ Has New Data About Cost of Health Care

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Press Release Date: July 10, 2000

In 1996, about $554 billion in payments were made for health care services and supplies used by the U.S. population not in the military or living in institutions. The average cost per person who had medical expenses was about $2,400. However, half of these people had medical expenses of less than $559. The charts linked below show that only small proportions of the population had expenses for inpatient hospital (6.8 percent) and home health services (2.4 percent), although these health services had the highest average annual expenses ($11,492 for inpatient hospital and $5,191 for home health care).

Select to access charts on Percent of population with health expense (PDF File, 7 KB; PDF Help) and Average expense per person with expense (PDF File, 6 KB; PDF Help).

These estimates from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) are lower than those recently released by the Health Care Financing Administration's National Health Accounts (NHA). This is primarily because the MEPS Household Component is focused on the civilian non-institutionalized population and does not collect data on people in the military or living in institutions such as nursing homes or prisons. It also omits costs for program administration and revenues not associated with patient care. When the surveys are adjusted for these and similar differences, the MEPS expenditure estimates are not substantially different from those contained in the NHA.

More information is available from Distribution of Health Care Expenses, 1996 (Publication Number 00-0024) and Per Capita Health Care Expenses, 1996 (Publication Number 00-0026). These publications also are available by calling the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse, 800-358-9295.

For more information, contact AHRQ Public Affairs (301) 427-1364: Karen Carp, (301) 427-1858 (; Karen Migdail, (301) 427-1855 (

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


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