What age group has lowest rate of growth in personal health care spending?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

WASHINGTON – Average annual growth in per capita personal healthcare spending for the elderly was 4.1% from 2002 to 2010, the lowest among any other age groups studied, according to a report by the CMS Office of the Actuary released May 5 and published in the journal Health Affairs.

Overall, authors of the report found that growth in spending among groups over this time period varied, especially during the recession. For example, in 2008-10, the largest difference in average spending growth between males and females was for the working-age group (19-64). In this period, per capita spending growth for this group was 4% for males but 2.6% for females.

However, authors found the impact on the elderly was less clear. Per capita spending growth for this group in 2008-10 averaged just 2.4% annually, which was lower than the growth rate for the other age groups. Contributing factors: slower Medicare spending, and continued slow growth in spending for nursing care facilities and continuing care retirement communities.

Additionally, private health insurance spending per enrollee for those ages 65 plus grew slowly, at 3% annually in 2008-10—the slowest growth rate of private health insurance among the major age groups. Out-of-pocket spending per person for the elderly declined 0.4% annually over this same period, according to the report.

Despite the lower rate of growth among the elderly, per capita spending by the elderly in 2010 ($18,424) continued to be about three times more than the average for working adults ($6,125) and five times more than children ($3,628).

Authors considered personal healthcare costs all the medical goods and services used to treat or prevent a specific disease or condition in a specific person. As such, the estimates of health spending by age and gender reflect the types of goods and services delivered, including hospital care, physician and clinical services, retail prescription drugs, and the program and payers for that care, such as private health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.