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Health care utilization in the elderly Mexican population: Expenditures and determinants

César González-González1, Sergio Sánchez-García2, Teresa Juárez-Cedillo2, Oscar Rosas-Carrasco1, Luis M Gutiérrez-Robledo1 and Carmen García-Peña2*

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto de Geriatría. Secretaría de Salud. México City, México (Geriatric Institute. Health Secretariat, Mexico City, Mexico

2 Unidad de Investigación Epidemiológica y en Servicios de Salud, Área de Envejecimiento. Centro Médico Nacional Siglo XXI; Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social. México, D.F., México

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:192  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-192

Published: 29 March 2011



Worldwide population aging has been considered one of the most important demographic phenomena, and is frequently referred as a determinant of health costs and expenditures. These costs are an effect either of the aging process itself (social) or because of the increase that comes with older age (individual).


To analyze health expenditures and its determinants in a sample of Mexican population, for three dimensions acute morbidity, ambulatory care and hospitalization focusing on different age groups, particularly the elderly.


A secondary analysis of the Mexican National Health and Nutrition Survey (ENSANUT), 2006 was conducted. A descriptive analysis was performed to establish a health profile by socio-demographic characteristics. Logistic regression models were estimated to determine the relation between acute morbidity, ambulatory care, hospitalization and age group; to establish the determinants of hospitalization among the population 60 years and older; and to determine hospitalization expenditures by age.


Higher proportion of elderly reporting health problems was found. Average expenditures of hospitalization in households were $240.6 am dlls, whereas in households exclusively with elderly the expenditure was $308.9 am dlls, the highest among the considered age groups. The multivariate analysis showed higher probability of being hospitalized among the elderly, but not for risks for acute morbidity and ambulatory care. Among the elderly, older age, being male or living in a city or in a metro area implied a higher probability of hospitalization during the last year, with chronic diseases playing a key role in hospitalization.


The conditions associated with age, such as chronic diseases, have higher weight than age itself; therefore, they are responsible for the higher expenditures reported. Conclusions point towards a differentiated use and intensity of health services depending on age. The projected increase in hospitalization and health care needs for this group requires immediate attention.

Health expenditures; elderly in Mexico; health needs