Prescription Drug Utilization and Physician Visits

Lump-Sum Distributions Total $87.2 Billion in 1995

October 1999, Vol. 20, No. 10
Paperback, 12 pp.
PDF, 67 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 1999

Download Notes PDF pdf

Executive Summary

Prescription Drug Utilization and Physician Visits—FEmployers'
health care costs again appear to be increasing
significantly, and rising prescription drug expenditures
have been receiving much of the blame. In terms of physician and
patient behavior, the two factors most often cited related to
these increased prescription drug costs are direct-to-consumer
advertising and differences in the way prescription drugs are
prescribed by physicians. Overall, prescription drugs accounted
for only 7.2 percent of all national health expenditures in 1997
and 11.5 percent of all private health insurance expenditures in
1997. This Notes article examines expenditures on
physician services and prescription drugs, as well as the number
of physician visits and new prescriptions ordered as a result of
these visits in 1993 and 1997.

Lump-Sum Distributions Total $87.2 Billion in 1995—According
to 1995 data recently made available, both the number and
dollar amounts of lump-sum distributions made from retirement
accounts are significant (this includes lump-sum distributions
from retirement plans, annuities, profit-sharing plans, and
insurance contracts, but excludes individual retirement accounts
[IRAs] and simplified employee pensions [SEPs]). In 1995, 5.6
million tax filers reported receiving a lump-sum distribution,
and distributions totaled $87.2 billion. Lump-sum distributions
are defined here as full distributions where the entire account
is liquidated. These figures include distributions made to both
workers (for example, distributions from a 401(k) plan upon job
change) and to retirees.