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Trends In Out-Of-Pocket Spending By Insured American Workers, 1990-1997

The 1990s were kind to insured health care consumers--lower out-of-pocket spending offset rising premiums.

March/April 2001
Health Affairs, Vol.20, No. 2 (March/April 2001): 47-57
Jon R. Gabel, Paul B. Ginsburg, Jeremy D. Pickreign, James D. Reschovsky

his paper examines trends in out-of-pocket spending for insured workers from 1990 to 1997. Data are from the Consumer Expenditure Survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The survey collects detailed quarterly data on all consumer spending from logs kept each year by more than 10,000 households with job-based health insurance. During the study period, total out-of-pocket spending in constant dollars remained unchanged. Spending for medical expenses, drugs, and supplies declined by23 percent, but this decline was offset by rising employee contributions for health insurance premiums. The shift to managed care, whose benefit structure requires less cost sharing, may have played a role in reducing out-of-pocket spending.

Free access to this article is available at the Health Affairs Web site.


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The Center for Studying Health System Change Ceased operation on Dec. 31, 2013.