41% of healthcare spending attributed to 12% of Americans, study finds

U.S. adults with five or more chronic conditions spend 14 times more on health services on average than those with no chronic conditions, according to a new RAND Health report prepared for the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.

For the study, researchers analyzed the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. MEPS is a nationally representative sample of the noninstitutionalized U.S. adult population.

The study revealed 60 percent of U.S. adults had at least one chronic condition in 2014, the most recent year data is available. Forty-two percent of U.S. adults had more than one chronic condition, according to the study.

The study showed people with more chronic conditions require more healthcare services. For example, the study revealed people with five or more chronic conditions average 20 physician visits per year, while those with three or four chronic conditions average 12 physician visits annually.

The study also showed spending on healthcare services rises with the number of chronic conditions a person has. U.S. adults with one or two chronic conditions make up 31 percent of the population and 23 percent of total healthcare spending. Those with five or more chronic conditions make up 12 percent of the population but account for 41 percent of total healthcare spending, according to the study.

For the study, researchers defined healthcare spending as the amount spent on all inpatient and outpatient care across all payers, including out-of-pocket payments.

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