A lot can be gleaned from looking at the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality Statistical Briefs, particularly those that focus on national health spending. These are based on the medical expenditure panel surveys, so there are limitations as with any survey data, but a lot of work has gone into refining the methodology so they are pretty accurate. One recent brief focuses on per person spending for the non-institutionalized population in 2014. (AHRQ Brief) 85% of the population had at least some health spending in 2014. The average per person expense for this 85% that had some spending was $5531, while the median was $1372. So to be clear, 57% of the population had health spending from zero dollars to only $1372. And if you looked only at the under-65 population, the median is even lower, and persons over 65 have Medicare already. And we need national health insurance?
As would be expected, mean expenses for people over 65 were $10,980, double those for persons under 65, at $4430. 76% of the population had at least some ambulatory service expense, only 6.6% had an inpatient service cost, 61% had drug spending and 20% had home health care and other medical expense. Persons over 65 had much higher use in every category, for example patients over 65 had 16% rate of hospital spending, while only 4.9% of those under 65 did. For people over 65, those on Medicare only had lower average spending, $9221, compared to the over-65s with Medicare and private insurance at $11,172 and Medicare and other public coverage (Medicaid) at $15,538. For people under 65, there was not significant variation in average spending by type of insurance coverage, although the under-65 uninsured had average spending of only $3109, compared to $4809 for public coverage (Medicaid) and $4421 for those privately insured. Next up we will look more at concentration of spending.