Top 10 Personal Health Expenses From Diabetes To Pregnancy
The cost of diabetes, heart disease and back pain are taking a greater toll on the U.S. economy, with these conditions and injuries dominating personal healthcare spending, authors of a new study say.
They are among only 20 of 155 conditions that account for more than half of all U.S. health spending, researchers led by the University of Washington wrote in the study, published in the Dec. 27 Journal of the American Medical Association. Diabetes, the top spending category, accounted for more than $100 billion in personal health spending.
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 (cellulitis, acne): $55.7 billion 10. Pregnancy and postpartum care: $55.6 billion
Cancer was not among the top 20 conditions with high spending in the study’s report 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.
To curtail health spending, private insurers and Medicare are moving to value-based approaches in an attempt to spend more upfront on wellness, outpatient care and outreach to make sure patients are getting what they need before conditions become more costly if they are neglected.
Aetna, UnitedHealth Group, Anthem and most Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans are shifting tens of billions of dollars in what they pay doctors and hospitals from fee-for-service medicine that rewards volume of care delivered to valuebased approaches.
“The trajectory of healthcare costs could be impacted by a stronger focus on the preventability aspects of these conditions, but it’s not the way resources are allocated across the country,” Derek Yach, chief health officer of Vitality Institute, one of the study’s sponsors, said in an interview. “Fee-forservice is an ineffective way to manage long-term healthcare costs.”
In the case of diabetes, insurers and medical care providers have their work cut out for them. Diabetes costs rose 36 times faster over the 18-year study period than cost of ischemic heart disease generally impacting those 65 and older, the study indicates.
“Diabetes in and of itself is a story,” said Dieleman. “That increase has been in all types of care.”