by Dr. Meenakshy Varier on  December 28, 2016 at 10:47 AM Health Watch
  • The health care spending in U.S continues to increase and now accounts for more than 17% of the U.S economy.
  • Diabetes, ischemic heart disease and lower back ache are the top three spending categories.
  • These top three conditions comprise 18% of all personal health spending amounting to $437 billion in 2013.

There are about 20 health conditions that contribute to more than half of all the health care expenditure in the United States of America.

These findings are according to a new comprehensive financial analysis that covered 155 conditions and examined spending by diseases and injuries.
Diabetes Becomes the Most Expensive Health Care Condition in U.S

Diabetes, ischemic heart disease and lower back ache are the top three conditions that dominate the U.S health care spending.

Diabetes totaled $101 billion in diagnoses and treatments, growing 36 times faster than the cost of ischemic heart disease.

Ischemic heart disease totaled $88.1 billion in expenditure, has been the number-one cause of death over the past 18 years. It strikes people over the age of 65 years.

The third-most expensive condition which is the lower back pain and neck ache, which amounted to $87.6 billion, primarily strikes adults of working age.

These three top spending categories, along with hypertension at $83.9 billion and injuries from falls at $76.3 billion, comprise 18% of all personal health spending, and totaled $437 billion in 2013.

"While it is well known that the US spends more than any other nation on health care, very little is known about what diseases drive that spending." said Dr. Joseph Dieleman, lead author of the paper and Assistant Professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

"IHME is trying to fill the information gap so that decision-makers in the public and private sectors can understand the spending landscape, and plan and allocate health resources more effectively." Dr. Joseph added.

In addition to the $2.1 trillion spent on the 155 conditions examined in the study, Dr. Dieleman estimates that approximately an extra $300 billion in spent on personal care health care costs which remains unaccounted for.

The total personal health care costs such as those of over-the-counter medications and privately funded home health care in the US reached $2.4 trillion in 2013. The paper tracks a total of $30.1 trillion in personal health care spending over 18 years.

Other expensive conditions among the top 20 include:
  • musculoskeletal disorders, such as tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • depressive disorders at $71.1 billion
  • oral-related problems at $66.4 billion
  • vision and hearing problems at $59 billion
  • skin-related problems like cellulities and acne at $55.7 billion
  • pregnancy and postpartum care at $55.6 billion
Other key findings from the paper include:
  • Women aged 85 years and older spent more than $31,000 per person in 2013. About 58% of this spending occurred in nursing facilities, while 40% was expended on cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer's disease, and falls.
  • Men aged 85 years and older spent $24,000 per person in 2013, with only 37% on nursing facilities.

"This paper offers private insurers, physicians, health policy experts, and government leaders a comprehensive review," said IHME's Director, Dr. Christopher Murray.

"As the United States explores ways to deliver services more effectively and efficiently, our findings provide important metrics to influence the future, both in short- and long-term planning." Murray added.

Majority of those costs were associated with non-communicable diseases. The diseases that topped infectious disease category was respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

The paper is titled "US Spending on Personal Health Care and Public Health, 1996-2013," and the study is published in JAMA.


  1. Dr. Joseph Dieleman et al. US Spending on Personal Health Care and Public Health, 1996-2013. JAMA; (2016) doi:10.1001/jama.2016.16885

Source: Medindia

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