April 1995

Patterns of Childhood Medical Spending

Author Affiliations

From the National Public Services Research Institute, Landover, Md.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(4):369-373. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170160023003

Objective:  To provide data on childhood medical spending.

Methods:  This article is based on data released in 1991 through 1993 from the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey. The data were analyzed for 14 diagnostic categories. They excluded spending on nursing home and dental care. We inflated the National Medical Expenditure Survey expenditures to December 1993 dollars by means of annual medical spending per capita as a price index.

Results:  Medical spending on children aged 0 to 21 years totaled $86 billion per year, 15% of all US medical care spending. The largest source of child medical spending was on live birth and pregnancy, at $19 billion, followed by injury, at $12 billion, and respiratory conditions, at $10 billion. Live birth and pregnancy were the largest contributor of hospital inpatient spending for children 0 to 21 years old. Injury accounted for more than half of the spending in emergency departments. One quarter of prescription spending was the result of respiratory conditions.

Conclusions:  Childhood medical spending for the three largest categories can be reduced through proved preventive measures. These analyses also show that prevention priorities differ by age group.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:369-373)