Health Care

To better measure spending trends and treatment prices, BEA developed a set of supplemental statistics called the Health Care Satellite Account. The satellite account measures U.S. health care spending by the diseases being treated (for example, cancer or diabetes) instead of by the types of goods and services purchased (such as doctor's office visits or drugs).

In addition to the satellite account, and to provide greater comparability to the widely used National Health Expenditure Account (NHEA) data, BEA produces health care estimates using BEA data applying the NHEA framework.

Statistics from BEA's Health Care Satellite Account give policymakers, researchers and the public another way of understanding the economics of health care. At the same time, BEA continues to produce the traditional goods-and-services health care estimates that are part of its core statistics, such as gross domestic product. Read more.

  • Health Care Satellite Account data for 2021 are now available.
  • BEA Data Applying NHEA Framework has been updated with greater years of coverage (1959-2023)

About These Estimates

The Health Care Satellite Account

Within the satellite account, there are two different sets of disease-based statistics. One version uses data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the only nationally representative survey that contains detailed expenditure information by disease. BEA calls this the "MEPS Account." Because of its relatively small sample size, the MEPS Account produces more volatile estimates across years. To address this issue, we also produce the "Blended Account," which blends together data from multiple sources, including large claims databases that cover millions of enrollees and billions of claims.

Looking at spending by disease is a first step toward BEA's goal of developing an account that allows better assessment of value in health care spending. BEA continues to conduct research to expand and improve its health statistics.

BEA Data Applying NHEA Health Sector Mapping

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' National Health Expenditure Accounts (NHEA) produce detailed national data on spending by place of service and by payer. BEA's National Income and Product Accounts produce national health care statistics, but do not produce statistics split out by payer. There are methodological differences between the two accounts.

NHEA is one of the most widely cited sources for measuring expenditures in the health sector and is commonly used to measure health care as a share of GDP. BEA Data Applying NHEA Framework utilizes BEA data to produce timely estimates using NHEA health sector mapping to generate greater comparability between the estimates. Policymakers and the public can use these estimates to obtain a snapshot of the health sector, in a form comparable to the NHEA data.

Research Publications and Working Papers

What is the Health Care Satellite Account?

Measures U.S. health care spending to treat diseases – like cancer or diabetes, rather than by place of service, like a hospital or doctor's office, offering a new way of analyzing the health care sector.

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What's a Satellite Account?

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