Data from AHRQ’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey are being used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to develop a national statistical measure of health care spending. The BEA, part of the Department of Commerce, used its Health Care Satellite Account to calculate that U.S. health care spending reached $2.08 trillion in 2010, growing at an annual rate of 6.5 percent since 2000. Spending on treatments for infectious and parasitic diseases grew an average 9.6 percent per year between 2000 and 2010, more than any other category of illness. Read the case study.
Department of Commerce Agency Uses MEPS for New Scrutiny of Health Care Spending
Data from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) are being used by a U.S. Department of Commerce Agency to develop and support a new national statistical measure that details the economics of health care spending and trends.
The new resource—the Health Care Satellite Account (HCSA)—is maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Updated annually, it was developed to provide an improved assessment of value in health care spending.
"MEPS is foundational to the HCSA, because it's the only place we can get a representative sample of people and their health care spending habits," said Abe Dunn, Ph.D., BEA economist.
MEPS—a set of large-scale surveys of families and individuals, their health care providers, and employers—collects data on the health services that Americans use, how frequently they use them, the cost of these services, and how they are paid for. It also provides data on the cost, scope, and breadth of health insurance held by and available to U.S. workers.
BEA economists who developed the HCSA started with MEPS as the only nationally representative survey that contains detailed expenditure information by disease category. Then they blended together data from multiple other sources, including large databases containing millions of enrollees and billions of claims. To maintain statistical accuracy, MEPS serves as the basis for the HSCA; the large claims databases are folded into the estimates.
The result is a detailed set of statistical analyses estimating how much Americans spend on health care.
Using the HCSA, BEA economists calculated that health care is a large and growing share of the U.S. economy: 17.4 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product) in 2013. Total U.S. health care spending in 2010 was $2.08 trillion, growing at an annual rate of 6.5 percent since 2000. Also among the findings: spending on treatments for infectious and parasitic diseases grew an average 9.6 percent per year between 2000 and 2010, more than any other category of illness.
"These numbers will help us keep better track of how health care dollars are spent in the United States," Dr. Dunn said. "We expect that policymakers will find this useful to analyze where the spending growth is."
BEA economists will update the HCSA each January.
Impact Case Study Identifier:
AHRQ Product(s): Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS)
Geographic Location: National
Implementer: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis
Page last reviewed January 2016