A new comprehensive financial analysis of spending carried out on injuries and diseases in the United States has revealed that just 20 health conditions comprise over half of all health care spending in the country. And out of that list, diabetes, heart disease and back pain dominate the top spots.
For a study published in JAMA, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation distinguished between public health program and personal health spending, including individual out-of-pocket costs and government and private insurance programs, and assessed health care costs for 155 conditions.
Diabetes, The Most Expensive Health Condition
As the most expensive of the health conditions examined, diabetes led to $101 billion worth of spending used for diagnosing and treating it, growing in cost 36 times faster than ischemic heart disease, which has been the top cause of death in the United States over the last 18 years. Diabetes and heart disease typically afflict people at least 65 years old but low back pain, the third-most expensive health condition, mainly strikes those of the working age.
In 2013, these three conditions, along with fall-related injuries and hypertension, made up 18 percent of personal health spending, totaling $437 billion.
"While it is well-known that the U.S. spends more than any other nation on health care, very little is known about what diseases drive that spending," said Joseph Dieleman, the study's lead author.
He added that IHME is looking to fill in the gaps in information to aid decision-makers in better understanding health care spending and more effectively allocating available health resources.
There was a total of $2.1 trillion of health care spending for the 155 conditions assessed by the study but there remains an estimated $300 billion unaccounted for, which covered costs for privately funded health care at home and over-the-counter medications. This indicates that personal-related health care costs would've amounted more accurately to $2.4 trillion for 2013.
Other health conditions making up the top 20 are muskuloskeletal disorders (rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, etc.), well-care related to dental visits and pregnancy- and postpartum-related care.
U.S. Spending On Personal Health Care And Public Health
A total of $30.1 trillion was tracked in personal health care spending for the study over the course of 18 years. Majority of costs were attributed to non-communicable conditions but infectious diseases were also part of the list, with respiratory infections at the top of the infectious disease category.
Other key findings include that women above 85 years old spend more than their male counterparts. In fact, women in the age group spent the most per person for 2013, shelling out $31,000, 58 percent of which went into nursing facilities while 40 percent was spent on addressing falls, Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular diseases.
Men aged 85 and up, on the other hand, only spent $24,000 per person back in 2013, with 37 percent going to nursing facilities. According to the researchers, this may be because women usually live longer and men typically have spouses at home to take care of them.