Introduction: High out-of-pocket expenditures for health care can put individuals and families at financial risk. Several groups, including racial/ethnic minority groups, the uninsured, rural residents, and those in poorer health are at risk for this increased burden.
Methods: The analysis utilized 2004-2005 MEPS data. The dependent variables were the out-of-pocket health care spending to total income ratios for total spending, office-based visits, and prescription drugs. Multivariate analyses with instrumental variables controlled for respondent characteristics.
Results: Gender, age, rurality, insurance coverage, health status, and health care utilization were all associated with higher out-of-pocket to income ratios.
Conclusion: Certain groups, such as women, the elderly, those in poor health, and rural residents, are at a greater financial risk due to their higher out-of-pocket to total income spending ratios. Policymakers must be aware of these increased risks in order to provide adequate resources and targeted interventions to alleviate some of this burden.