Children's health spend on rise

August 1, 2012

The increase in spending on children's health care is outpacing that of any other age group.

The increase in spending on children's health care is outpacing that of any other age group, according to a new report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), an independent entity based in Washington, DC, that maintains a centralized database of public- and private-sector health care spending and use trends.

Using datasets from 3 billion private health insurance claims from 3 national health plans, the HCCI determined that per capita spending on children's health increased to $2,123 in 2010, an 18.6% increase from 2007.

Almost one-third (31.4%) of total health care spending on children in 2010 was spent on children aged younger than 3 years, even though this segment comprised only 17% of the covered child population.

The increased spending on children's health care occurred despite a 29% decline in the use of branded drugs and a 14% increase in the use of generic drugs. Use of central nervous system medications such as antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, and drugs used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder jumped by 10%.

The acceleration of spending on children occurred mostly as a result of rising prices paid for outpatient-visit facility services, which increased at more than twice the rate of inpatient-admission facility services. On average, $855 was spent on professional services per child, a 16.5% increase from 2007.

Health Care Cost Institute. Children's Health Care Spending Report: 2007-2010. Washington, DC: Health Care Cost Institute; 2012.