The amount patients spent on medical care, after premiums, increased by 19% between 1996 and 2005, even after adjusting for inflation and rising rates of chronic disease, researchers reported in the journal Health Affairs.
The study found that fewer people reported a single chronic condition in 2005, but those reporting three or more increased by 5.9%. Chronic illness typically requires ongoing medical care, the authors wrote, which results in higher out-of-pocket spending for copays, co-insurance, deductibles or other costs not covered by insurance.
Out-of-pocket expenses increased with the number of chronic conditions in 2005, from an average of $343 per year for an individual with one disease to $1,865 for those with three or more. Before adjusting for chronic illness, the average out-of-pocket expense increased 39% between 1996 and 2005. After researchers factored in disease prevalence, spending rose 19% during the decade. -- by Melanie Evans