HealthPartners' age- and gender-specific annualized per capita cost patterns for total medical costs during 2002–2003 reflect the typical epidemiology of medical care in the United States across the life course, where costs are high for newborns, decrease in childhood for both genders, rise for females in childbearing years, and crossover at ages 60–64 as costs for men become increasing higher than for women (; Worldwide Watson Wyatt 1996
). Our upper age range extends beyond the typically reported “ages 85+” and the results show per capita costs go down after age 85 for both males and females. The “Under Age 1” category in our data includes all newborn costs. As well newborn costs are not aggregated with maternity costs, this approach provides a distinct picture of both of those age-specific cost patterns.
Standardized-Annualized per Capita Costs, 2002–2003, All Services
also shows the relative ratios of per capita costs within this data set by age and gender, using the reference group of “females ages 40–44” equal to one. For example, comparing costs for the age range 85–89 with the reference group, per capita costs for males are 4.4 times as great, while females are only 2.7 times as great.
Looking at the MPC level, the age–gender cost pattern for heart and vascular conditions is highly right skewed, indicating that seniors incur much higher costs than younger people (). Kidney disorders has a similar right-skewed age–gender cost pattern (). For both of these MPCs, per capita costs for males are substantially higher than for females at nearly every age. Orthopedics' cost pattern is also right skewed, with females incurring higher costs than males starting at age 40. In contrast, the chemical dependency cost pattern is left skewed, with a peak at ages 15–19 for both males and females, and with lower costs for those older than 65 compared to under 65. Males have higher annualized chemical dependency costs than females for nearly every age, with twice the spike in costs in the teen years compared with females.
Standardized-Annualized per Capita Costs, 2002–2003, Heart and Vascular Conditions
Standardized-Annualized per Capita Costs, 2002–2003, Kidney Disorders
Impact of Aging on Costs Overall and by Body System
Overall, we project that per capita costs due to aging will increase from $2,993 in 2000 to $3,543 in 2050, an 18 percent increase overall (0.3 percent annually). The rate of change is steepest from 2000 to 2035 as Baby Boomers enter retirement, and then levels off from 2035 to 2050 as the age structure of the population stabilizes ().
Cumulative Percent Change in Health Care per Capita Costs Due to Aging, United States 2000–2050
Per capita cost changes due to aging are unevenly distributed across MPCs (). Our model projects that 80 percent of the increase in total cost per capita will occur in just seven MPCs: heart and vascular conditions, orthopedic and arthritic conditions, gastric and intestinal conditions, lung conditions, neurologic disorders, endocrine conditions, and urologic conditions. We project kidney disorders costs will be the MPC most affected by population aging—increasing by 55 percent, followed by heart and vascular conditions (+44 percent) and urologic conditions (+36 percent). Cost per capita in four MPCs will decrease as a result of the changes in the population age structure: psychiatric conditions (−1 percent), care of newborns (−2 percent), chemical dependency (−7 percent), and pregnancy and infertility care (−12 percent).
Impact of Population Aging on Total Health Care Costs and by Major Practice Category, U.S., 2000–2050
Each MPC's relative share of the 18 percent increase in total per capita costs from 2000 to 2050 is a function of the MPC's proportion of total medical per capita costs in 2000 compared with the total in 2000 and its projected percent increase in costs from 2000 to 2050. For example, the heart and vascular MPC contributes the largest relative share of absolute per capita cost change due to aging from 2000 to 2050 (31 percent) as a result of its large percentage increase in cost per capita from 2000 to 2050 (+44 percent) combined with its highest cost per capita relative to all other MPCs in 2000 ($396). The model projects it will have the highest cost per capita relative to all other MPCs in 2050 ($568). The orthopedic and arthritic conditions MPC is the second highest contributor to the absolute per capita cost change due to aging, comprising 12 percent of the total increase, as an expensive per capita MPC whose impact by population aging is moderate (+19 percent). While the kidney disorders MPC has the largest percentage change in cost per capita (+55 percent), it is a much smaller contributor to the relative share of absolute per capita change due to aging from 2000 to 2050 (+4 percent), due to its comparatively low cost per capita in 2000 ($44).