[Music] Americans spend more than a trillion
dollars on health care annually. Almost as much as they spend on food. But the average individual only incurs about a thousand dollars in health related
costs a year or less. That’s because the majority of America’s collective health care spending can be traced back to a very small group of people. In a given year, just 5% of the U.S. population is responsible for 50% of the nation’s medical spending. That’s roughly 16 million people who spend more than $20,000 a year on hospital bills and prescribed pills. So who are these “super-users?” Well that’s part of the problem. There’s no single answer. They represent an incredibly diverse population that is constantly changing. What we do know is that roughly 42% are senior citizens, another 20% are under 45, and 4% are children or teens. And contrary to popular belief more than 90% of super-users have health insurance. Many do suffer from long-term illnesses. Almost two-thirds have cancer, heart disease, diabetes or have experienced a stroke. But others have no chronic conditions at
all, and many report their physical health is generally good. They might enter the 5 percent because of an acute condition that needs a costly surgery, like appendicitis. Among those who enter the 5 percent, at least half will leave within a year. And because there is no one factor that predicts who will become a super-user we simply don’t have a good way to address their enormous expenditures. But properly identifying people before they become part of the 5% is only part of the solution. It comes down to our fundamental
approach to care. When health is on the line, the numbers suggest there’s almost nothing insurance companies won’t charge and Americans won’t pay.