Survey: Top 1% of patients account for 22% of costs

In 2012, United States healthcare expenditures totaled $1.35 trillion, though medical care expenses are predominantly concentrated among a relatively small portion of individuals, according to a recent report by the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

In 2012, the top 1 percent of the population ranked by their healthcare expenses accounted for 22.7 percent of total healthcare expenditures, with an annual mean expenditure of $97,956, according to the MEPS report.

The concentration of healthcare expenses among the top 1 percent of the population ranked by their healthcare expenses increased by 0.9 percent from 2009 to 2012, while the top 5 percent of the population accounted for 50 percent of total expenditures in both 2009 and 2012.

The estimates in the 2014 report were drawn from analyses conducted by MEPS from the Household Component of the Full Year Consolidated Data.

Further findings from the report are listed below.

General findings

  • The top 5 percent of the population accounted for 50 percent of total expenditure with an annual mean expenditure of $43,058.
  • The top 10 percent of the population accounted for 66 percent of total expenditures with an annual mean expenditure of $28,468.
  • The top 50 percent of the population accounted for 97.3 percent of overall healthcare expenditures while the lower 50 percent accounted for only 2.7 percent of the total.

Age-specific findings

  • In 2012, the top 5 percent of children under the age of 18 ranked by their healthcare expenses accounted for 53.8 percent of healthcare expenditures incurred by this subpopulation, with an annual mean expenditure of $19,520.
  • The top 5 percent of people between ages 18 and 44 accounted for 52.1 percent of healthcare expenditures for this subpopulation, with an annual mean expenditure of $27,754.
  • The top 5 percent of individuals ages 45 to 64 were associated with 47.1 percent of the healthcare expenditures for this age group, with an annual mean of $57,030.

Insurance status-specific findings

  • In 2012, the top 5 percent of the uninsured population under age 65 ranked by their healthcare expenses accounted for 58.9 percent of the healthcare expenses for this subpopulation, with an annual mean expenditure of $14,565.
  • Among the nonelderly with public coverage only, the top 5 percent accounted for 55.9 percent of healthcare expenditures incurred by this subgroup, with an annual mean expenditure of $42,355.
  • Among the nonelderly with private coverage, the top 5 percent were associated with 51.1 percent of this group's overall healthcare expenses, with an annual mean of $39,542.

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