The needs of the few

One percent of nation accounts for 20 percent of health-care spending

A recent study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that 1 percent of the population accounted for 21.8 percent of the national health-care spending in 2009.

The study supports speculation that a relatively small number of sick people can have a significant effect on the health-care system, as the top 5 percent of spenders accounted for half the nation’s total health spending, according to NPR. Of the unfortunate few who spent the most on health, 80 percent were white, 60 percent were women and 42.9 percent were 65 or older.

The bottom 50 percent of health-care spenders accounted for just 2.9 percent of the national total.