US Health Care Age and Gender Spending Trends Interview with:
David Lassman
Statistician in the National Health Statistics Group, Office of the Actuary
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
Baltimore, Maryland.

MedicalResearch: What types of health care spending are included in this report?

 Answer: In the past, the CMS Office of the Actuary provided periodic updates of health care spending by age and more recently by gender. This report, for the first time, provides a time series of spending by age (five categories – 0-18, 19-44, 45-64, 65-84, and 85+) and gender. We also show spending by three major age categories – children (0-18), working age adults (19-64), and the elderly (age 65 and over). We present data for personal health care only which consists of all the medical goods and services used to treat or prevent a specific disease or condition in a specific person. We provide estimates for the even years between 2002 and 2010. These age and gender estimates are controlled to the most recent Historical National Health Expenditure Accounts.

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

  • Aggregate spending on children increased at the slowest annual average rate, 5.7 percent between 2002 and 2010 to $285 billion compared with 6.2 percent for working age adults ($1,164 billion), and 5.9 percent for the elderly ($744 billion). However, on a per-capita basis, spending increased the fastest for children at 5.5 percent average annual rate compared with 5.2 percent for working age adults and 4.1 percent for people over 65.
  • Per capita spending for the elderly in 2010 ($18,424) continued to be about three times more than the average spending for working age adults ($6,125) and five times more than children ($3,628) during the study period.
  • Personal health care spending for females ($7,860) in 2010 was about 25 percent more than males on a per capita basis, but the gap decreased from a peak disparity of 29 percent in 2004.
  • Implementation of Part D, the effects of the recent recession, and the aging of the baby boomers affected the spending trends and distributions from 2002 through 2010.
  • With the implementation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Part D), Medicare spending for prescription drugs increased from 3.4 billion in 2004 to 39.6 billion in 2006 as Medicare’s share of prescription drug spending for the elderly increased from 5 percent in 2004 to 45 percent in 2006.
  • The recession had a significant impact on most sectors of the economy including health care. Per capita spending on personal health care increased, on average 5.7 percent between 2002-2008 and 3.4 percent in 2008-10. Spending in each major age group slowed by at least 2 percentage points in 2008-10
  • Baby boomers (people born between 1946-1964) accounted for about ¼ of the population and all were included in 45-64 age group in 2010. The average annual growth in aggregate spending for this age group was 7.6 percent from 2002 – 2010.

MedicalResearch: What factors will impact future reports?

 Answer: The Office of the Actuary will continue to release periodic updates of health spending by age and gender from the National Health Expenditure Accounts. Future releases of this data will include the impact of baby boomers’ entering the elderly age group and becoming eligible for Medicare and the impacts of provisions of Affordable Care Act such as the requirement for insures to cover dependents of enrollees up to age twenty-six, expanded Medicaid coverage for working-age adults, and the implementation of health care Marketplaces.


US Health Spending Trends By Age And Gender: Selected Years 2002–10

David Lassman, Micah Hartman, Benjamin Washington, Kimberly Andrews, and Aaron Catlin

National Health Statistics Group, Office of the Actuary, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Baltimore, MD

Last Updated on May 15, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD