Females spend 30 percent more for healthcare

In a departure from earlier research that said gender does not determine healthcare spending, researchers with the National Health Statistics Group in CMS' Office of the Actuary have found that per capita differences in healthcare spending between males and females are quite pronounced, according to a recent Health Affairs article.

In 2004, per capita healthcare spending for females was one-third more than for males. Among the working-age population, spending on maternity care drove numbers up for women.

Females accounted for 57 percent of all personal healthcare spending in 2004, although they made up just 50 percent of the U.S. population. Across all payers and services, females spent about $1,448 more per capita on healthcare than males in 2004. The greatest disparity was in nursing home care, where females spent nearly twice what males spent.

The gender divide in share of total spending should not come as a complete surprise, because women have a longer life expectancy (80.4 years compared to 75.2 years for men).

The estimates were based on administrative data from Medicare's National Claims History Files, the Medicaid Statistical Information System and the Medicaid Analytic Extract System.

The authors note that changes in the relationship between male and female health expenditures are minimal in the short term. "Therefore," they wrote, " any of the relationships within and across genders we describe here are likely to exist today."

To learn more:
- read the Health Affairs article