Cover: The Most Expensive Medical Conditions in America

The Most Expensive Medical Conditions in America

This Nationwide Study Finds That the Most Disabling Conditions Are Not Necessarily the Ones We Spend the Most to Treat

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 21, no. 4, July/Aug. 2002, p. 105-111

by Benjamin Druss, Steven C. Marcus, Mark Olfson, Harold Alan Pincus

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Abstract

This study uses a nationally representative survey to identify the most expensive conditions in the United States and to examine the association between spending and disability. The most expensive conditions at a population level were ischemic heart disease and motor vehicle accidents; at the per capita level they were respiratory malignancies. There was not a significant association between rank order of treatment costs and disability; the conditions with the greatest disability relative to expenditures were mood disorders, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and arthropathies. The authors use the findings to discuss the role for cost-of-illness and burden-of-disease estimates in setting priorities.

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