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The Distribution of Public Spending for Health Care in the United States on the Eve of Health Reform

Didem Bernard, Thomas Selden, Yuriy Pylypchuk

NBER Working Paper No. 23150
Issued in February 2017
NBER Program(s):Health Economics

U.S. health care spending in 2012 totaled $2.8 trillion or 17.2 percent of gross domestic product. Given the magnitude of health care spending, the large public sector role in health care, and the reforms being implemented under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), we believe it useful to examine several basic questions: What was the public share of national spending on the eve of reform? How has the public share evolved over time? And how are the benefits of public spending on health care distributed within the population by age, poverty level, insurance coverage, health status, and ACA-relevant subgroups? The questions we pose, while basic, cannot be answered with commonly-available statistics due to the sheer complexity of health care financing in the U.S. The objective of this paper is to provide answers by combining aggregate measures from the National Health Expenditure Accounts with micro-data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23150

Published: The Distribution of Public Spending for Health Care in the United States on the Eve of Health Reform, Didem Bernard, Thomas Selden, Yuriy Pylypchuk. in Measuring and Modeling Health Care Costs, Aizcorbe, Baker, Berndt, and Cutler. 2018

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