Aspen, CO and Washington, DC Spending on health care for children grew faster than spending for adults between 2007 and 2010 due to increasing prices for all categories of goods and services, finds a new report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI). This rise in spending occurred despite a decline in number of commercially insured children and a drop in the use of costly health care services, such as hospital stays and brand-name drugs, says the Children's Health Care Spending Report: 2007-2010. This is the first such analysis to track changes in spending, prices, and use of health care services by children covered by private employer-sponsored health insurance.
Price increases surpassed changes in the amount of health care children consumed and outstripped general inflation from 2007-2010, according to the report. Outpatient visit prices rose the fastest, increasing 34.4 percent over four years, nearly six times the rate of inflation, which grew 5.2 percent.
Per capita spending on children's health care rose to $2,123 in 2010, an 18.6 percent increase from 2007. Spending on health care for infants and toddlers was disproportionately high. Although children under 3 years comprised 17 percent of the covered child population, 31.4 percent of the total children's health care dollars was spent on them in 2010. Per capita spending for this age group reached $3,896 in 2010. At the same time, teenagers had the highest rate of per capita spending growth, rising 22.3 percent between 2007-2010, with more money going toward prescription drugs and outpatient care.
Utilization of mental health and substance abuse services by children rose nearly 24 percent over the four year period. Use of these services grew the most for children age 9-18. In addition, use of central nervous system drugs, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and drugs used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, jumped more than 10 percent. Use o
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