Children's Health Spending: 2010–2013 shows that spending on healthcare for children (ages 0-18) covered by employer-sponsored insurance grew an average of 5.7% per year. The increase in spending in 2013 occurred despite a drop in the use of prescription drugs and visits to the emergency room, demonstrating that rising health care prices were an evident driver behind the spending increase in that year. The report is based on fee-for-service claims for 10.2 million children per year who were covered by employer-sponsored insurance.
Spending on health care for children (ages 0–18) covered by employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) grew an annual average of 5.7 percent per year between 2010 and 2013, compared to 3.9 percent for the total population (ages 0–64) with ESI.
In 2013, Rise in Spending on Inpatient Care and Higher Prices Drove Up Overall Spending, as Use of Prescriptions and ER Visits Declined
Per capita spending on children reached $2,574 by 2013, a $391 increase from 2010. The rise in children's spending in 2013 occurred despite a drop in the use of prescription drugs and visits to the emergency room, demonstrating that rising health care prices were an important driver behind the spending increase. The report also showed growth in spending on children's inpatient services, which contributed to the overall increase in spending.
Price Hike for Inpatient Care
Spending on inpatient admissions rose in 2013 as a result of rising prices and slightly higher admission rates for children—particularly newborns. The average price of an inpatient admission for a child increased by $744 in one year, hitting $14,685 in 2013. For infants and toddlers (ages 0–3), inpatient admissions accounted for about 40 percent of their per capita health care spending.
Decline in Prescription Use
For the first time in the study period, HCCI observed a drop in overall prescription use by children. 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 percent for babies, more than 700 percent for younger children (ages 4–8), more than 800 percent for pre-teens (ages 9–13), and more than 500 percent for teenagers (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 health care spending trends for children," says HCCI Senior Researcher Amanda Frost. "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 health care."
Additional Report Highlights:
The report presents the most up-to-date information on health care spending trends for privately insured children under age 19. It is based on fee-for-service claims for 10.2 million children per year who were covered by ESI. About half of the children in the United States were covered by ESI in 2013.