Spending on boys up to the age of 18 was higher than girls—$2,716 per capita for boys compared with $2,426 for girls. But the reverse was true when HCCI looked at just teens: Health spending on teen girls was higher than on boys of that age group.
The higher-than-average spike in spending for children compared with the general population came despite the fact that both prescription drug use and visits to the emergency room dropped in 2013. Price savings also came from a dramatic shift toward the use of less expensive generic drugs.
But the overall increase in spending was fueled by higher numbers of inpatient admissions to hospitals by children and increased prices for such admissions, HCCI's report said.
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"The largest dollar increase in the average price per service was in inpatient admissions," the report noted. In 2013 alone, "the average price per admit increased by $744," hitting $14,685 per admission.
And the biggest driver of the rise in such admissions were newborn babies, between 0 and 18 days old, who were admitted separately from their mothers.
And "we are seeing higher average prices for baby boy admissions than for baby girl admissions," Frost said. "We're not really sure why, yet ... the claims data is not very good at telling us why that is true."
Babies overall—kids between the ages of 0 and 3—had the highest level of spending by far of any age group for juveniles, $4,813 per capita. In a distant second place was spending on teenagers age 14 to 18 years old, at $2,746 per capita, HCCI's report found. Babies also had the fastest average annual growth of health spending of any other group of kids, at 6 percent.
Per capita spending on babies was even higher than one group of adults, those between the ages of 26 and 44, whose per capita spending was $4,258.