• healthcare expenditures;
  • depression;
  • chronic diseases

The objective of this study was to estimate mean annual out-of-pocket (OOP) healthcare expenditures of Americans aged 65 and older with self-reported depression and compare these expenditures with the OOP expenditures of older Americans with hypertension, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, and arthritis. Data from the 1999 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which employs a nationally representative stratified random sample of households in the United States, were used to estimate mean OOP expenditures for health care during 1999. The data were limited to observations on individuals aged 65 and older living in households in the United States included in the 1999 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey sample (N=2,730). Mean OOP expenditures for older Americans with depression were $1,835 in 1999. Most of the spending ($1,090) was for prescription drugs in this population. For patients with depression, only 8% of total OOP spending was for depression-specific services and treatments. Mean OOP spending was greater for persons with depression than it was for older Americans with hypertension ($1,181) and arthritis ($1,190), whereas OOP spending for depression was similar to spending of older Americans with heart disease ($1,412) and diabetes mellitus ($1,527). Older Americans with depression have high OOP expenditures, with most of this spending for health services and drugs to treat general medical conditions.