Spotlight on Statistics

November 2009

Health Care – Spotlight on Statistics

Audio Script

Nearly everyone in the United States can relate to BLS health care data in some way. Most people are born in a hospital, and many people eventually end up in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Between these two points, many of us obtain medical insurance through our employers, see doctors and get prescriptions filled by pharmacists, or just wonder how we will pay for it all. Here's a sample of BLS data related to health care:

  • In most of the years from 1936 to 2008, the inflation rate for medical care, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, increased more than the overall inflation rate.
  • In 2008, consumers spent 5.9 percent of their household budget on health care . Households in the Midwest and South allocate larger shares of their total household expenditures to health care than households in the Northeast and West.
  • U.S. households spent, on average, a total of $2,976 on health insurance, medical services, drugs, and medical supplies in 2008. Hispanic, Black or African American, and Asian households spent less—and White households spent somewhat more—than the average.
  • Employment in the health care industry has been growing for decades. Employment in health care has continued to grow even during the current recession, adding over half a million jobs since the beginning of the recession in December 2007.
  • Among workers employed in health care occupations (not including doctors and dentists, many of whom are self-employed), the nation's pharmacists had the highest average wages. Over 2.5 million people worked as registered nurses.
  • Employment in occupations related to health care is expected to increase in coming years. The health care occupations with the largest projected employment increases are registered nurses; personal and home care aides; home health aides; nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants; medical assistants; and licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

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