Disparities in Health Care Spending among Older Adults: Trends in Total and Out-of-Pocket Health Expenditures by Sex, Race/Ethnicity and Income between 1996 and 2010

Toshiko Kaneda, Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
James B. Kirby, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), DHHS

Older adults spend disproportionately more on health care than the young, and the gap has widened dramatically over time. Trends in health expenditures within the older population, however, are less well documented. In light of pending health care reforms, it is critical to establish baseline trends for medical expenditures among the elderly and disparities therein. Using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, we examine trends in total and out-of-pocket health expenditures in old age since 1996 and how they differ by sex, race/ethnicity, and income. We further explore differences in expenditures on specific conditions in an effort to explain disparities. Our preliminary analyses reveal important patterns in the trends. For example, we find little sex differences in total spending, but significantly higher out-of-pocket spending for women, and this sex difference widened during the study period. This can be explained by different conditions for which men and women receive care.

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Presented in Poster Session 2