Most Health Care Costs Incurred by Few Americans

By: U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Release
By: U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Release

January 11, 2012

Only 10 percent of the U.S. population accounted for nearly two-thirds of all health care costs in 2008, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The average annual cost for each of these individuals totaled almost $24,000, which includes costs covered by insurance and paid out of pocket. Approximately 45 percent of these individuals remained in this 10 percent of the population in 2009, based on their health expenses that year.

The federal agency’s analysis of the 10 percent of patients with the highest health care expenses in both 2008 and 2009 also found that:

· Nearly 60 percent of these patients were women.

· More than 40 percent of patients were age 65 or older, while those age 18 to 29 made up just 3 percent.

· More than 80 percent of patients were white, while Asians were the smallest segment at 2 percent.

The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid.


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  • by Paul on Jan 11, 2012 at 01:12 PM
    This just make sense. Most are old, white females. Older people need more help and women have more problems than men which is natural. Most asians are younger, blacks are fewer than their actual percentage of the population because they just can't afford it and they don't live as long (also a result of poverty) and someone mentioned illegals? Not much in those percentages. We do love our stereotypes though.
  • by Unhealthy on Jan 11, 2012 at 01:12 PM
    Woohoo! By cost, I'm in the top 10%! Oh wait, that's not the top 10% I want to be in. I am a full-time employed, insured American citizen who is well under 65 years old. It's hard to believe that the cost of keeping me upright exceeds most of the rest of the population. Are they leaving a lot of people out of these stats?
  • by Anonymous on Jan 11, 2012 at 12:44 PM
    So if 10% have run up the cost of medical care, then add to that the 25% who have NO medical insurance which leaves the remaining 60% or so to carry the burden of subsidising their health care and most commonly 75% of the insured pay for the medical claims of the sickest 20% so that the insurers make sure they don`t take the loss. Those losses are shifted to the individual policy holder that pay double the premiums or more of those in group plans and most of their claims are denied or reduced.
  • by Death Star on Jan 11, 2012 at 12:31 PM
    Darn old people, women no less. Someone should tell Rush so he can fix it. Rush is so smart I want to marry him.
  • by one more thing on Jan 11, 2012 at 12:13 PM
    Illegals are invaders. Pure and simple. We did not ask them to come here. We did not invite them. If they come here they should be prepared to PAY THEIR OWN WAY, and not expect us to pay for their food, housing, healthcare, or education. If they can't afford to do that -- HERE'S THE DOOR. They can experience our "freedom" to LEAVE.
  • by yeah but on Jan 11, 2012 at 12:09 PM
    Yeah but did they list the cost of ILLEGALS and ILLEGALS IN PRISON healthcare costs? The Anchor Babies cost? The ER cost of welfare patients who never work, have never worked, and still are not working. The heroic measures for the "crack"/the AIDS babies/the drug babies that take up millions of dollars in hospital time and care -- and still will never be alright. DO THE STUDY AGAIN and this time include the people who are draining our system. These are entities that were not budgeted for. We cannot sustain the world on our healthcare system. Oh one more thing: PROFIT SHOULD BE TAKEN OUT OF HEALTHCARE. This is one place that should not be profit-driven. Sell catastrophic insurance that everyone can afford and be done with these HMOs etc. They cost too much for the little bit they do. HMOs tell what doctors can give you for meds off THEIR FORUMLARY. Fit the drug to the disease, I don't want some admin panel telling my doc what instru to use on me or what drugs to use.
    • reply
      by GV on Jan 11, 2012 at 01:11 PM in reply to yeah but
      I guess you think that people should go to school and become doctors and brain surgeons and then work for free?You had me agreeing with you until you started that talk of stupidity and communism.
      • reply
        by never communism on Jan 11, 2012 at 02:32 PM in reply to GV
        I have lived through the 1950s. Doctors made a good living but they lived within their means. You could actually to the doctor and pay for the visit out of your pocket. There were not the up front office personnel needed today. The doctor now is just a lab rat running through his paces today. He is keeping a huge monstrous machine going, without a whole bunch of happiness. He is on the run from early morning (5 a.m. until 10 p.m.) We never needed health ins until the 1970s. Before you could go to your banker and make a loan and pay the hospital. There were no credit cards and there were certainly no HMOs taking your money at every turn. The insurance companies need to be cut down to size and offer decent ins and that's it.
    • reply
      by chris on Jan 11, 2012 at 04:50 PM in reply to yeah but
      I agree with GV. You had me also till you went "stupid". Without "profit" there aren't any new drugs nor pay raises, or new hires. shall I go on?
      • reply
        by never communism on Jan 11, 2012 at 06:58 PM in reply to chris
        Profit - the kind of profit that is being made on the backs of American citizens right now -- should not be happening. When the suits came on the scene, the price of medicine went out the window. Do you realize when you have surgery on your gut there may be 3 to 4 doctors, each one divided into a section of your anatomy. If you break your heels, you may not get a "foot" doctor because there are no Heel Specialists available. I've seen that. Doctors used to see you as a whole person. Now they see you as "the arm in room 1". The "throat in room 2". Dr. Watt used to see you for 30 minutes if you had an appt. You may talk about fishing but you were seen on time and you talked to your doctor. Now you may see a doc for 3 minutes and he's gone. They are on a treadmill. Profit driven medical care has to be stopped. I have a plan that I've proposed but of course who am I. I think it would work. But -- nobody cares because it does not involve profit in the acute care setting. Our drugs are more expensive in the US than anywhere else in the world. Try that on for size!
        • reply
          by chris on Jan 11, 2012 at 08:21 PM in reply to never communism
          Well I lived through the 50s also and you are still partially stupid. Open your eyes.Yeah "suits". Lawsuit happy people forcing higher prices on everything. Hospitals and doctors afraid of large settlements against them. In the 50s if you tripped, fell and broke your arm it was your stupidity.Now it is whomever you can sue. Just look at the Hoffman case or the idiot who spilled hot coffee on their lap. So have you become one of the "entitlement" people now. Be responsible for your own actions. If you don't like your job or salary quit. Find another job or start your own business. Quit blaming others.
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