July 10, 2012

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding as constitutional the federal health care overhaul law frequently referred to as “Obamacare,” we thought it appropriate to provide some recently released official statistics regarding health care services and their costs in the United States for the most recent years before Obamacare.

In 2009, there were 1.3 billion visits to physician offices, hospital outpatient departments, and hospital emergency departments. Of these, 1.0 billion were visits to physician offices, 96 million were visits to hospital outpatient departments, and 136 million were visits to hospital emergency departments.

In 2010, 21% of adults 18 years of age and over had one or more emergency department visits in the past year, and 8% had two or more visits.

In 2010, 79% of children 2–17 years of age, 61% of adults 18–64 years, and 58% of adults 65 years of age and over had seen a dentist in the past year.

Between 2000 and 2008–2009, the nonfederal short-stay hospital discharge rate was stable at 1,100–1,200 discharges per 10,000 population, and the average length of stay was 5 days.

The percentage of the population taking at least one prescription drug during the past 30 days increased from 38% in 1988–1994 to 48% in 2005–2008. During the same period, the percentage taking three or more prescription drugs nearly doubled, from 11% to 21%, and the percentage taking five or more drugs increased from 4% to 11%.

In 2009, 34% of personal health care expenditures were paid by private health insurance; consumers paid 14% out of pocket; 23% was paid by Medicare and 17% by Medicaid; and the remainder was paid by other insurance, payers, and programs.

In 2010, the Medicare program had 48 million enrollees and expenditures of $523 billion, up from $509 billion the previous year. Expenditures for the Medicare drug program (Part D) were $62 billion in 2010.

Of the 35 million Medicare enrollees in the fee-for-service program in 2009, 18% were under 65 years of age, compared with 15% in 2000.

In 2009, children under 21 years of age accounted for 48% of Medicaid recipients but only 20% of expenditures. Aged, blind, and persons with disabilities accounted for 21% of recipients and 63% of expenditures.

In 2009, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) accounted for $9.5 billion (less than 1%) of personal health care expenditures.

In 2009, national health care expenditures in the United States totaled $2.5 trillion, a 4% increase from 2008. The average per capita expenditure on health was $8,000 in 2009.

Expenditures for hospital care accounted for 31% of all national health expenditures in 2009. Physician and clinical services accounted for 20% of the total, prescription drugs for 10%, and nursing care facilities and continuing care retirement communities for 6%.

Prescription drug expenditures increased 5.3% between 2008 and 2009, compared with a 3.1% increase between 2007 and 2008.

In 2009, the average cost for the entire hospitalization involving a heart valve procedure was $49,000, a coronary artery bypass graft procedure was $36,000, cardiac pacemaker insertion or replacement was $33,000, and spinal fusion was $26,000.

Between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of the population under 65 years of age with private health insurance obtained through the workplace declined from 67% to 57%.

In 2010, 8% of children under 18 years of age and 22% of adults 18–64 years of age had no health insurance coverage (public or private) at the time of interview.

Between 2000 and 2010, among children in families with income just above the poverty level (100%– 199% of poverty), the percentage of uninsured children under 18 years of age dropped from 22% to 13%, while the percentage with coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) increased from 28% to 54%.

Source National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2011: With Special Feature on Socioeconomic Status and Health.

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