Medical Spending in the US: Facts from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Dataset
28 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2015
Date Written: July 16, 2015
We document facts about medical spending of the US population using the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey dataset. We find that for the entire population, around 44% of the total medical spending is paid by private insurance but there is a substantial difference in terms of financing medical care by age: for working age adults (25 to 65 years old) private insurance covers around 57% of the total medical spending, whereas for the elderly (older than 65 years old) the largest payor is the government which covers 65% of the total. Inpatient hospital care accounts for a third of the aggregate medical expenditures. Medical spending is highly concentrated: the top 5% of spenders account for more than half of the total expenditure. Even higher concentration is observed among hospital spending where the top 5% of spenders contribute around 80% to the total expenditure. The concentration in medical spending decreases with age: the Gini coefficient of the total medical spending is 0.75 for people aged between 25 and 64 years old and 0.63 for people older than 65 years old. We find that average medical spending of people in the bottom income quintile is higher than that of people in the top income quintile for all age groups. In terms of persistence of medical spending, we find that the correlation of medical expenditure in two consecutive years is 0.36. When persistence is measured by quintile of medical spending distribution, medical spending of people in the bottom and top quintiles has higher persistence relative to other groups.
Keywords: medical spending, health insurance, health care
JEL Classification: D12, D14, I13, I14
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