NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 21, 2006

Minnesota seniors in their 60s and 70s have health costs double and sometimes triple the amount of spending for state residents in their 30s and 40s, according to a recent study by the Minnesota Council of Health Plans.

For the study, researchers evaluated data from reports filed with the Minnesota Health Department and claims data from the council's members.

They found:

  • Health care spending last year increased by 44 percent for Minnesota residents in their 20s and 40s, by 62 percent for residents in their 40s through 60s and by 101 percent for those in their 60s and 70s.
  • Minnesota residents at age 40 had health costs averaging $4,519 last year, while those in their 70s had average costs of $11,679 and those in their 80s had average health expenditures of more than $14,700.
  • Minnesota residents had health costs totaling $10.7 billion last year, a 21 percent increase from 2003.
  • Some 31 percent of the state's total health care spending was on physician services, 18 percent was on inpatient hospital costs and 16 percent was on prescription drugs.
  • The state spent $1.9 billion on 24 million prescriptions, a 15 percent increase from 2003, but an increased use of generic drugs slowed the rise in costs.
  • Emergency department visits increased by 2 percent among privately insured state residents between 2003 and 2005 and increased by 21 percent among those enrolled in state health insurance programs.
  • Diagnostic imaging expenses increased by 13 percent to $188.8 million in 2005.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the report suggests that lower-income Minnesota residents do not seek care for various conditions until they became serious problems.  The researcher's findings "offer a benchmark to determine if earlier prevention steps now will translate into less health care spending in later years."

Source: "Health Costs For Minnesota Seniors At Least Double That Of Younger Residents, Study Finds," Medical News Today, December 20, 2006 and

David Phelps, "More care early could cut health costs later," Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 14, 2006.

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