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Lonhala Magnair

Out-of-Pocket Health Spending Increases with Age

Nearly one in five people with health expenses paid more than $1,000 out-of-pocket in 2011 while 8.2% paid more than $2,000 out of pocket that same year.

Overall, about 85% of the U.S. population had health care expenses in 2011, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

In 2011, an average of $703 was paid out of pocket for health care among people with some health care expenses. This average ranged from $283 for children under age 18 to $1,215 for the elderly age 65 and older.

The overall average ($703) was substantially larger than the overall median ($237) because a small proportion of people had extremely large out-of-pocket expenses. Median out-of-pocket expenses were also substantially lower than averages across all age groups.

In 2011, 12.1% of people paid nothing out of pocket toward their health care expenses. However, this proportion decreased with age, ranging from 32.5% for children under 18 to 2.5% for people age 65 and older. Further, 14.4% of people age 65 and older had expenses greater than $2,000 vs. only 8.5% for younger adults and 3.1% for children under 18.

For more info, see Machlin & Carper (2014). Out-of-pocket health care expenses by age and insurance coverage, United States, 2011. Statistical Brief #441. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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