The Costliest Health Conditions

All conditions and diseases are not created equal……particularly when it comes to cost. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) breaks down the costliest conditions based on personal healthcare spending. Some of the most expensive health issues may surprise you.

From Forbes Magazine:

Researchers looked at the conditions and diseases over an 18-year period through 2013 that are driving U.S. health spending, which accounts for 17% of the U.S. economy. “The top 10 or 20 things aren’t always things that people are thinking of,” Joseph Dieleman,assistant professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the paper’s lead author said in an interview.

Here are the top 10 health expenses:

    1. Diabetes – $101.4 billion
    2. Heart disease – $88.1 billion
    3. Low back and neck pain – $87.6 billion
    4. Hypertension – $83.9 billion
    5. Injuries from falls – $76.3 billion
    6. Depressive disorders – $71.1 billion
    7. Oral surgery (fillings, extractions, dentures) – $66.4 billion
    8. Vision and hearing – $59 billion
    9. Skin-related (cellulitis, acne) – $55.7 billion
    10. Pregnancy and postpartum care – $55.6 billion

You will likely notice that cancer is not on the top 10 list. In fact – it’s not among the top 20 conditions primarily because the disease was “disaggregated into 29 conditions,” the report states. “It’s not that we don’t spend much on cancer, it’s because we spend a lot of money on all of the other conditions,” Dieleman said.

A news release from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) says the top 20 conditions “make up more than half of all spending on health care in the United States….Other expensive conditions among the top 20 include musculoskeletal disorders, such as tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis; well-care associated with dental visits; and pregnancy and postpartum care.”

The Washington Post added:

The data show that the primary drivers of health-care spending vary considerably. For example, more than half of diabetes care is spending on drugs, while only about 4 percent of spending on low back and neck pain was on pharmaceuticals. Generally, more spending is done on elderly people, but about 70 percent of the spending on low back and neck pain was on working-age adults. Such insights provide a way to find the drivers of growth in health-care spending and to launch strategies to control it.

Most of the discussion of health care in America has focused on access to insurance, but the spending breakdown shows that the biggest opportunities may come in preventing disease.

Let us know what you think about this new study and whether anything about it surprises you. We’d also love to hear about how you believe prevention can play a bigger role in cutting health costs here in our state. Generating the types of conversations that can help us find new ways to drive better health plays a big part long-term goal to one day make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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