Online Program

Health status and out-of-pocket expenditures among baby boomers in the U.S

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Xiuwen Sue Dong, DrPH, Data Center, CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training, Silver Spring, MD
Xuanwen Wang, PhD, CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training, Silver Spring, MD
Julie Largay, MPH, CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training, Silver Spring, MD

This study examines health status and healthcare expenditures among baby boomers, focusing on construction workers.  


Data were from the 2012 wave of Health and Retirement Study (HRS) ‒ a longitudinal survey on Americans over age 50 (n=12,652) since 1992.  Several age cohorts, including Early Baby Boomer (EBB) and Mid Baby Boomer (MBB) have since been added to the HRS, a total of 18,850 respondents in 2012. Of those with employment experience, 1,390 had ever worked in construction, and half were baby boomers (BBs). Out-of-pocket expenditures (OOPEs) within past two years were estimated and stratified by health status.


More than 20% of BBs perceived their physical health fair/poor, half reported at least one mental symptom, and 70% had one or more chronic conditions. Construction BBs reported poorer physical health but slightly better mental health than non-construction BBs. OOPEs for EBBs were higher ($3,970) than other age cohorts, which were similar in construction and non-construction, but highly skewed in construction (from $1,000 to $207,000).

Within construction, BBs having fair/poor health spent about $4000 more than those with excellent/very good health. Those with 3+ chronic conditions spent $5000 more than those without conditions. OOPEs for disabled BBs was as high as $24,000. OOPEs for those with employer-provided insurance ($3,900, 95% CI: $1,500-6,300) was higher than those covered by government plans or uninsured.


Poor health and chronic conditions significantly increase OOPEs. As baby boomers age, healthcare costs are anticipated to grow, which needs special attention from individuals and the public.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Analyze health and out of pocket healthcare expenditures among baby boomers.

Keyword(s): Health Care Costs, Health Assessment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: The presenter has conducted research on occupational safety and health for 20 years, and is the PI of this NIOSH-funded project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.