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Health Expenses Increase for Middle-Age Americans

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Between 1996 and 2006, total health-care expenses for middle-age Americans nearly doubled, according to a federal government study.

Total health-care expenses for adults ages 45 to 64 were $370 billion in 2006, compared with an inflation-adjusted amount of $187 billion in 1996, says the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The study included all middle-age adults, except those in nursing homes or other institutions.

Among the other findings:

* The proportion of middle-age adults who incurred medical expenses remained at about 89 percent, but average annual health-care expenses for those with expenses increased from $3,849 in 1996 to $5,455 in 2006.
* Prescription medicines accounted for 15 percent of total expenses in 1996 and 25 percent of total expenses in 2006.
* The proportion of total expenses for hospital inpatient care decreased from 36 percent to 26 percent.
* There was a significant increase in the average cost per health service: doctor office visits, $128 to $207; inpatient hospital day, $3,005 to $3,491; emergency room visit, $563 to $947; dental visit, $195 to $265; prescription medicines, $103 to $199.

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