New Study Reveals Increased Child Health Care Spending

According to a July 10th report from the Health Care Cost Institute, the annual average of money spent, covered by employer insurance, on health care for children ages 0-18 grew by 5.7% every year between 2010-2013. In comparison, the amount spent in that time for ages 0 to 64 only increased by 3.9% each year. This report is based on the almost half of U.S. children covered by ESI in 2013, or around 10.2 million children ages 0 to 18.

The report details that despite a decrease in prescription drug use and pediatric emergency room visits, per capita spending on children totaled $2,574 in 2013, showing a $391 increase from 2010. It also reports an increase in spending on children’s inpatient services, which saw a $744 increase in one year, reaching a total cost of $14,685 in 2013. Additionally, 40% of inpatient admission costs were for children under the age of four.

In accordance with a continuing shift from branded prescription drugs to generics, the HCCI reported a decline in overall prescription use by children in 2013. From 2011 to 2013, the use of generic prescriptions, mostly for asthma and allergies, saw a 300% increase for infants, a 700% increase for kids ages four to eight, an 800% increase for kids ages nine to 13, and a 500% increase for kids 14 to 18. The use of the branded version of these drugs dropped to almost zero in the same time window.

Though the Urgent Care Association of America sees an average of three million people every week, the report also showed a decline in ER visits in 2013 among kids ages 0 to 18. The biggest decrease was in males ages 14 to 18 and teen labor/delivery admissions, while mental health and substance abuse admissions for females ages 14 to 18 increased.

“We hope this report gives researchers, policymakers and consumers a clearer picture of health care spending trends for children,” said HCCI Senior Researcher Amanda Frost in the news release. “While we know that prices have fueled much of the spending growth, future research should examine whether these expenditures are yielding valuable health outcomes and what the implications are for the future of children’s healthcare.”

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