Family Health Care Costs

The United States spends over $3 trillion on health care each year. Families bear the burden of these high costs, not only through insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, but also through taxes to support health care.

According to National Health Expenditures Accounts and the Current Population Survey, in 2016, American households paid on average 19% of their income toward health care costs.

But the costs and benefits were not spread evenly, with households in the lowest income quintile bearing a disproportionate burden relative to their income. The lowest income quintile spends 43% of income towards health care, while those in the highest income quintile spend only 15%.

Between 2015 and 2016, the percent of income paid towards health care increased by 0.3%. A decrease in income paid toward health care would represent not only a decrease in the cost of care, but also a decrease in the burden that this cost imposes on households.

SOURCE: National Health Expenditure Data, 2016; Current Population Survey, 2016

  • Per capita family health care costs as percent of family income

  • FAMILY HEALTH CARE COSTS AS PERCENT OF FAMILY INCOME, BY INSURANCE TYPE IN 2016

  • FAMILY HEALTH CARE COSTS AS PERCENT OF FAMILY INCOME, BY HOUSEHOLD INCOME QUINTILE, IN 2016

  • FAMILY HEALTH CARE COSTS AS PERCENT OF FAMILY INCOME, BY AGE IN 2016

Preventable Hospitalization Rates

Having routine access to high-quality care throughout one’s life is key to good health and can also reduce the occurrence of preventable hospitalizations. People who have chronic or acute illness can be managed and treated by their primary care provider in a way that promotes health and reduces costs.   

An analysis of Health Care Cost and Utilization Project data indicated that in 2015, there were 1,520 preventable hospitalizations per 100,000 people. A decrease in the number of preventable hospitalizations would indicate that more people are managing their health better, which includes primary care to avoid the need for higher-cost treatment.

SOURCE: Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, 2015

  • POTENTIALLY PREVENTABLE HOSPITALIZATION RATES PER 100,000 PEOPLE, BY CONDITION

End-of-Life Care Expenditures

This measure monitors the medical choices made by and for people in their last year of life—with an eye toward time spent in clinical settings versus at home. End-of-life care expenditures also reflect costs associated with the burden of chronic disease, as well as the higher costs associated with acute care facilities.

According to Medicare beneficiaries’ data, in 2017, the average total health expenditures in their last year of life was $66,176. This mumber has gone up on average by approximatley $3,000 since 2013. A decrease in spending would suggest that more people are choosing community- or household-based services, such as hospice or home care.

SOURCE: Medicare Master Beneficiary Summary File (MBSF), 2017

  • AVERAGE TOTAL HEALTH EXPENDITURES IN LAST YEAR OF LIFE AMONG MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES

  • Average Total Health Expenditures in last year of life among Medicare Beneficiaries, by setting in 2017

  • AVERAGE TOTAL HEALTH EXPENDITURES IN LAST YEAR OF LIFE AMONG MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES, BY RACE/ETHNICITY in 2017

  • AVERAGE TOTAL HEALTH EXPENDITURES IN LAST YEAR OF LIFE AMONG MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES, BY STATE in 2017