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Relatively small slices of the population account for substantial amounts of the nation's healthcare expenditures
A new government study confirms what many primary care physicians have long suspected, based on their own experience: A relatively small number of Americans consume a large portion of the nation’s healthcare resources.
A Statistical Brief prepared by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) shows that in 2010 the top 1% of the population, as ranked by healthcare expenses, accounted for 21.4% of the country’s healthcare spending of $1.263 trillion. The top 5% accounted for just under half of the total expenditures, and the top 50% accounted for a whopping 97.2% of expenditures, leaving just 2.8% of the total for the bottom 50%.
Although heavily concentrated, the spending numbers actually represent an improvement from the late 1990s. At that time the top 1% accounted for 28% of healthcare spending, and the top 5% accounted for more than 50%.
The Statistical Brief examines concentration of healthcare spending using a variety of categories, including age, race sex, insurance status, chronic condition, and income. Some of its findings:
Data for the survey were taken from the household component of the AHRQ’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.