Health Care Satellite Account

What's New...

What's Ahead

Regular annual updates will be scheduled based off of source data release schedules.

Image of people looking at x ray.Health care is a large and growing share of the U.S. economy – 17.4% of GDP in 2013. In order to provide more detail on this important sector, BEA has developed the Health Care Satellite Account (HCSA). With this new account, BEA aims to improve the measurement of health care spending, and help researchers and policymakers better understand this sector’s spending and trends.

The principal contribution of the HCSA is that it redefines the commodity provided to patients as the treatment of disease (for example, cancer or diabetes) rather than the specific types of medical care that individuals purchase (such as visits to a doctor’s office or the purchase of a drug), as is currently published. The redefinition of the output of the health sector as the treatment of disease implies a different allocation of consumer spending for health care services (across diseases rather than goods and services) and also different price indexes than those published in the NIPAs.

The HCSA presents two versions of the accounts, currently for the 2000 to 2012 period. One version uses data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) – referred to as the “MEPS Account” - which is the only nationally representative survey that contains detailed expenditure information by disease. Due to the relatively small sample size the MEPS Account produces more volatile estimates across years. To address this issue, we present a second version of the satellite account – referred to as the “Blended Account” - which blends together data from multiple sources, including large claims databases that cover millions of enrollees and billions of claims. Both the data and more detailed descriptions of these accounts are available below.

Providing statistics for health care spending by disease is the first step in developing an account that would allow one to better assess the value in health care spending. As part of this project, BEA staff continues to conduct research to improve the HCSA going forward.


Publications and Working Papers

National Accounting - Methodology and Application

Measurement - Price and Utilization Growth

Prices and Utilization - Regional Differences

Data and Methods

Industry Accounts

BLS Experimental Index