Americans spending more on healthcare: report

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Americans spent about 40 percent more out of their own pockets for healthcare over the past decade, according to a report in the latest issue of the health policy journal Health Affairs. An increase in chronic conditions, especially diabetes and high blood pressure — not just among the “oldest old” but among baby boomers and older adults — is to blame, researchers say.

“Chronic conditions are more than just a health issue for the elderly. They are a household economics issue for every American,” lead co-author Kathryn Paez said in a statement. “Taking the time and making the effort to prevent diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes will save Americans money and increase their quality of life,” Paez, a research scientist at the Silver Spring, Maryland-based Center for Health Policy and Research, Social and Scientific Systems, added.

Paez and colleagues compared 1996 and 2005 out-of-pocket healthcare costs using data from the national Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which represents 292 million Americans.

They found that the average annual out-of-pocket spending on healthcare rose from $427 in 1996 to $741 in 2005. This represents a 39.4 percent inflation-adjusted increase in healthcare spending assumed directly by the consumer for things like insurance co-payments, deductibles, and other related medical items not covered by health insurance.

Prescription medications, by far, were the costliest out-of-pocket expenditures. According to Paez and colleagues, Americans over age 65 with multiple chronic diseases spent an average of $1,292 per year on prescription drugs in 2005 - more than five times more than what they spent on office visits. “The new Medicare Part D drug benefit may mitigate the financial burden of drug costs for this group,” the researchers say.

The greatest spike in spending occurred among people with multiple chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Between 1996 and 2005, reports of multiple chronic diseases roles 9.7 percentage points among Americans between 45 and 64 years old.

Whites reported having more chronic conditions than other races and women were more likely than men to report having at least one chronic medical condition, the results show.

Poor, near-poor and low-income Americans who did not receive Medicaid spent double what Medicaid recipients spent for care. This finding, Paez and colleagues say, highlights the need to expand coverage to non-elderly adults who are unable to obtain insurance through employers or other means. This is the group that is “increasingly developing chronic conditions while becoming more likely to be uninsured,” they note.

Because many chronic ailments stem from poor lifestyle habits and get better as lifestyle habits improve, health insurance benefits and healthcare reform should include incentives for people to adopt lifestyle practices that reduce the risk of chronic conditions and improve health, Paez and colleagues conclude.

“Employers are increasingly recognizing the value of wellness programs and making them available to employees. However, more dramatic and systematic efforts are needed to induce a societal shift where primary and secondary prevention is considered a basic benefit and healthy lifestyles are the cultural norm,” they wrote.

SOURCE: Health Affairs, January/February 2009.

Source

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Related Posts:


By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More Americans are burdened by chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, often having more than three at a time, and this has helped fuel a big rise in out-of-pocket medical expenses, a study released on Tuesday showed. With prescription drugs playing a key role, average annual out-of-pocket medical

Full Post: More Americans getting multiple chronic illnesses
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans spent $2.2 trillion on healthcare in 2007, or $7,421 per person, according to a U.S. government report released on Tuesday. The 6.1 percent rate of growth over 2006 was the lowest since 1998, mostly because growth in spending on drugs slowed, the team at the Centers

Full Post: U.S. health spending hits $2.2 trillion in 2007
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chronically ill Americans are more likely to forgo medical care because of high costs or experience medical errors than patients in other affluent countries, according to a study released on Thursday. The study comparing the experiences of patients in eight nations reflected poorly on the U.S. health care system as President-elect

Full Post: U.S. trails other nations in chronic illness care
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By David Douglas NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - White-coat hypertension is considered harmless in most people, but it appears to increase the risk of microvascular complications in patients with type 2 diabetes, Brazilian researchers report in Diabetes Care. White-coat hypertension refers to the tendency for some patients who normally don’t have high blood pressure to have a

Full Post: “White-coat” hypertension not benign in diabetics
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Spending on the Medicaid health program for the poor is on a path to grow at a much higher rate than the overall U.S. economy in the next 10 years, officials said on Friday. Spending on Medicaid benefits will increase 7.3 percent from 2007 to 2008, reaching $339 billion, and will expand at

Full Post: Report says Medicaid spending “unsustainable”

Site Navigation

Most Read

Search