Given increased focus on health spending, this investigation aims to compare trends in pediatric Medicaid and private insurance spending on type of service from 2002 to 2014 in order to inform policy and research. A repeated cross-sectional analysis of 2002 to 2014 National Health Expenditure Accounts data was conducted. Total spending, per capita spending, and compounded annual growth rates for type of service were determined for children ages 0 to 18 at the national level. Per capita spending growth was higher for private insurance than for Medicaid, and the areas of high per capita spending growth differed for private insurance and Medicaid. While Medicaid spent more per capita on hospital care than private insurance, private insurance demonstrated greater per capita spending growth on hospital care than Medicaid (8.49% vs 1.99%, respectively). Conversely, per capita spending on home health care grew more for Medicaid (6.79%) than for private insurance (3.18%). Trends in private insurance and Medicaid overall and per capita spending differ. Medicaid experienced higher annual growth in total spending than per capita spending, while private insurance had greater annual growth in per capita spending than total spending. Growth in private insurance per capita spending was higher than growth in Medicaid per capita spending, but growth in Medicaid total spending was higher than growth in private insurance total spending. These data suggest that Medicaid and private insurance may have different drivers of spending growth, highlighting the need for policy makers to examine spending patterns by payer. Further research to determine why such differences in spending growth exist will better inform efforts to increase health care value.
Keywords: child; cross-sectional studies; health expenditures; medicaid; private insurance.