Health care expenses for the U.S. civilian population in 2009 totaled $1.26 trillion. Medical care expenses, however, were highly concentrated among a relatively small proportion of individuals in this population, according to a recent statistical brief from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. In fact, the top 1 percent accounted for nearly 22 percent of total health care expenditures with an annual mean expenditure of more than $90,000 per person, while the top 5 percent of individuals accounted for nearly 50 percent of expenditures. The lower 50 percent of the population, ranked by their expenditures, accounted for 2.9 percent of the total.

Relative to the overall population, those individuals who remained in the top 10 percent of spenders from 2008 to 2009 were more likely to be in fair or poor health, elderly, female, non-Hispanic whites and those with public-only insurance. Those who remained in the bottom half of spenders were more likely to be in excellent health, children and young adults, male, Hispanics and the uninsured.

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