Spending on healthcare for children ages 0-18 covered by employer-sponsored insurance grew an annual average of 5.7% per year between 2010 and 2013, compared with 3.9% for ages 0-64, according to a new report from the Health Care Cost Institute.
Per capita spending on children reached $2,574 in 2013, a $391 increase from 2010, according to the report. The increase occurred despite a reduction in prescription drug use and ED visits. The report also showed growth in spending on children’s inpatient services.
Spending on inpatient admissions rose in 2013 as a result of rising prices and slightly higher admission rates for children, particularly newborns, the report stated. The average price of an inpatient admission for a child increased by $744 in one year, reaching $14,685 in 2013. For infants through age 3, inpatient admissions accounted for about 40 percent of their per capita healthcare spending.
HCCI also reported a drop in prescription use by children in 2013. This trend, along with a continued shift from the use of branded drugs to generics, meant spending on children’s prescriptions grew more slowly in 2013 than previous years. For example, between 2011 and 2013, use of generic prescriptions for medications commonly used to treat asthma and allergies rose by more than 300% for infants, more than 700% for children ages 4-8, more than 800% for children ages 9-13 and more than 500% for chlidren ages 14-18. At the same time, use of branded versions of these drugs declined to nearly zero.
“We hope this report gives researchers, policymakers and consumers a clearer picture of healthcare spending trends for children,” HCCI Senior Researcher Amanda Frost said in a 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.”
The report also noted fewer ER visits in 2013 for children ages 0-18, with the biggest decline seen in males ages 14-18. Teen labor and delivery hospital admissions declined while mental health and substance abuse admission increased for females ages 14-18, according to the report.
The report is based on fee-for-service claims for 10.2 million children ages 0-18 per year who were covered by ESI. About half of the children in the U.S. were cdovered by ESI in 2013, according to the report.
For more information, visit http://www.healthcostinstitute.org/childrens-health-spending-2010-2013.
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