Changes in health care spending patterns of older Americans

January 05, 2009

The share of health care expenditures allocated to medical services declined from 1985 to 2005 for consumer units whose reference person was in the 65-74 year-old age group.

Shares of health care expenditures, 65-74 year olds, 1985, 1995, and 2005
[Chart data—TXT]

The largest decline occurred from 1985 to 1995 and was followed by a further slight decline from 1995 to 2005. The share declined from 35 percent of health care expenditures allocated to medical services in 1985 to 18 percent in 1995. The share allocated to this category declined slightly from 1995 to 2005 to 17.6 percent.

Note that the decline in shares of health care expenditures allocated to medical services mirrors the increase in the share of health care expenditures allocated to health insurance. This perhaps suggests that since 1985 a larger portion of those expenditures previously spent directly on medical services were shifted to expenditures on health insurance.

These data come from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Note that while the age of the reference person classifies the consumer unit into an age group, other members of the consumer unit could be different ages. Find out more in "Out-of-Pocket Health Care Spending Patterns of Older Americans, as Measured by the Consumer Expenditure Survey" (PDF) by Meaghan Duetsch, in Consumer Expenditure Survey Anthology, 2008; the article includes information on health care expenditures of those in the 55-64 year-old age group as well as those in the 65-74 year-old age group.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Changes in health care spending patterns of older Americans on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2009/jan/wk1/art01.htm (visited October 31, 2014).

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