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Chartbook on Women and Disability

Section 4: Living arrangements, family life, and medical experiences

4.3. Do medical expenditures differ among women and men with and without activity limitations?

Medical expenditures of people with disabilities are four times greater than expenditures of people with no disabilities. Data collected in the 1987 National Medical Expenditures Survey was updated to 1993. In this survey, a person is considered to have a disability if she or he has an activity limitation in a major life area such as work, school or housework, due to a chronic health condition or impairment. Although people with disabilities constituted only 17% of the civilian, non-institutionalized population, they accounted for nearly half (47%) of medical spending. In 1993, this was estimated at $282.8 billion, spent on medical expenditures for people with disabilities (Trupin, Max & Rice, 1995).

As shown below, medical expenditures differ by age and gender. Not surprisingly, older people spend more on medical care than younger people. Males with disabilities have higher per capita expenditures than females with disabilities in all age groups except children. The difference is particularly striking in the 45 to 64 year old group, where per capita expenditures of men with disabilities ($6,100) are 40% higher than women's expenditures ($4,365). Nevertheless, gender differences are smaller than the differences between people with and without disabilities in all age and gender categories.

People with activity limitations spend dramatically more on medical care than those with no activity limitations,
dwarfing the gender differences at all ages.

Two horizontal bar charts. Go to Data Table for Figure 21 for the data values shown in this chart.

Figure 21: Per capita medical expenditures, by age group, activity limitation status, and gender

Data Table for Figure 21

Source: Trupin, Rice, & Max (1995); Max, Rice, & Trupin (1995).

Surveys: National Medical Expenditures Survey, 1987 (with data updated to 1993)

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