Health Care Satellite Account

Health care statistics are more than numbers about spending and economic growth. They help Americans understand the delivery of care that's essential to their lives.

To better measure spending trends and treatment prices, BEA developed a set of supplemental statistics called the Health Care Satellite Account. These statistics give policymakers, researchers and the public another way of understanding the economics of health care.

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). 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.

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.



Methodology and Application

Publications and Working Papers