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20% of Healthcare Dollars Spent on 1% of Population

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 12, 2012

Among the brief's other findings:

Coverage Status May Influence Spending
In the under-age-65 population, health insurance coverage status seemed to influence spending. Individuals who were uninsured for all of 2009 were disproportionately represented among the population that remained in the lower half of health care spending.

While 15.5% of the overall population under age 65 was uninsured, the uninsured comprised 25.9% of all individuals in the bottom half of spenders. But only 3.6% of those under age 65 in the top 10% of spending were uninsured.

Older People Spend More
Not surprisingly, older people were more likely to be in categories of high healthcare spending, disproportionate to their percentages. For example, while 13.2% of the people in the nation were 65 or older in 2008 and 2009, 42.9% of those in the 10% percent of healthcare expenditures were 65 or older. Likewise, people age 45-64 made up 26.2% of the U.S. population, but 40.1% of those in the top decile of healthcare spending were in that age bracket.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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1 comments on "20% of Healthcare Dollars Spent on 1% of Population"


Don Stumpp (1/13/2012 at 10:27 AM)
First, I will admit I didnt thoroughly read the report. When this started being played on the news, my thought was - what is the point? Insurance is meant to spread risk. There are catastrophic health events for a small percentage of people. That will always be there. So a very limited number of people will have the highest cost. We are not all going to spend evenly. If we did, then we wouldnt need insurance. And hopefully health care providers already know to focus on the top spending conditions like cancer or cardiac. Unfortunately, maybe the focus has been on using resources to delay the inevitable and hence the enormous cost for the 1%. But to 'blame' the 1% - which hopefully people won't due based on this report, is absurd. IMHO