The Concentration of Hospital-Based Medical Spending: Evidence from Canada?

In this paper, we present evidence on the concentration of hospital-based medical spending in Canada. We use longitudinal administrative data from the province of Quebec to document how medical spending is concentrated cross-sectionally, over time and finally near the end-of-life when death occurs at the hospital. Average expenditures rise rapidly with age, starting around the age of 50, and are concentrated in a small fraction of high-cost users. For example, the top 1% of men and women in terms of hospital spending account for 55.5% and 54.8% of total spending respectively. Persistence among high-users is rather low. Fewer than 3% of those in the top quintile of hospital spending stay in the same quintile the following year, fewer than 5% have any spending the following year. Finally, hospital spending among those in their last year of life and who die at the hospital can account for 11.1% of total hospital spending in the population. Most of that end-of-life spending, more than 80%, occurs in the last month of life.
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