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Life Health > Health Insurance > Health Insurance

The Agent's Health Spending Data Survival Kit

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Federal workers have updated a must-have tool for health insurance agents and brokers: the latest batch of national health care spending data.

A team at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has stuffed the summary article, and the spreadsheets behind the article, full of health care system revenue and expenditure numbers for 2016.

CMS analysts report here, for example, that overall U.S. health care spending grew 4.3% in 2016, to $3.3 trillion, or $13,348 per person.

Health care spending ate up 17.9% of the United States’ $18.6 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016.

A team led by Micah Hartman has published an easy-to-read, copyrighted version of the data, behind a paywall, on the website of Health Affairs, an academic journal. That version of the data is available here.

The team has also published a collection of data spreadsheets and more technical summaries of the data on the CMS website. That collection of data, which is copyright-free, is available here.

(Related: 10 States Where the Millennials Are More Obese Than the Seniors)

All of the figures in the article and the spreadsheets are fair game for producers can use.

Producers can:

  • Read the data to see for themselves, free from media bias, what’s been happening to the U.S. health care finance and delivery finance systems.

  • Put the data marketing presentations, brochures, social media posts, web videos and blog articles.

  • Build the data into proposals.

For a look at five especially useful gulps of information from the article, and the spreadsheets, read on.

Measuring tape (Image: Thinkstock)

(Image: Thinkstock)

1. National Health Expenditure Basics

Total GDP (national income):

2015: $18.1 trillion

2016: $18.6 trillion

Change: +2.8%

GDP per capita (in other words: per person):

2015: $56,580

2016: $57,751

Change: +2.1%

Total health expenditures:

2015: $3.2 trillion

2016: $3.3 trillion

Change: +4.3%

Health expenditures per capita:

2015: $9,994

2016: $10,348

Change: +3.5%

2. Total Spending by Coverage Type

Private health insurance:

2015: $1.07 trillion

2016: $1.12 trillion

Change: +5.1%


2015: $648.8 billion

2016: $671.1 billion

Change: +3.6%


2015: $544.1 billion

2016: $565.5 billion

Change: +3.9%

3. Per Enrollee Spending by Coverage Type

Private health insurance:

2015: $5,445

2016: $5,721

Change: +5.1%


2015: $11,951

2016: $12,046

Change: 0.8%


2015: $7,870

2016: $7,941

Change: +0.9%

4. Notable Spending Categories

These figures represent the change in total spending within a category between 2015 and 2016.

Hospital care: +4.7% (down from 5.7%)

Physician care: +5.4% (down from 5.9%)

Dental care: +4.6% (up from 4.4%)

Home health care: +4% (down from 5.8%)

Nursing home care: +2.9% (down from 3.7%)

Durable medical equipment: +4.9% (up from 4.1%)

Retail prescription drugs: +1.3% (down from 8.9%)

5. Medical Research

Spending on noncommercial medical research increased just 2.6% in 2016, but that’s up from an increase of 1.2% in 2015.

The increase in spending on noncommercial medical research is the biggest the government has recorded since 2010.

6. Private Health Insurance

Here are the 2016 spending figures, and year-over-year change figures, for some noteworthy spending categories:

Hospital care: $426.7 billion (+6.6%)

Physician and clinical services: $287.3 billion (+5.8%)

Dental services: $57.7 billion (+4.8%)

Home health care: $9.6 (+2.8%)

Nursing care facilities and continuing care retirement communities: $14.8 billion (+5.9%)

Prescription drugs: $142.6 billion (+0.8%)

Durable medical equipment: $9.9 billion (+9.5%)

7. Net Cost of Insurance

This is what private health insurers have left over for marketing, compliance costs, producer compensation and profit after paying claims.

2015: $125.5 billion

2016: $129.6 billion

Change: +3.3%

8. Net Cost of Insurance as a Share of Private Health Insurance Spending

2015: 11.7%

2016: 11.5%

—Read ACLI Finds Fewer Life Insurers, More Life Workers on ThinkAdvisor.

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