Comparing the National Economic Burden of Five Chronic Conditions

One-Quarter of the U.S. Population Has One or More of These Five Chronic Conditions, Which Cost $62.3 Billion in 1996

Published In: Health Affairs, v. 20, no. 6, Nov./Dec. 2001, p. 233-241

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2000

by Benjamin Druss, Steven C. Marcus, Mark Olfson, Terri Tanielian, Lynn Elinson, Harold Alan Pincus

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Using a nationally representative sample of 23,230 U.S. residents, the authors examine patterns of economic burden across five chronic conditions: mood disorders, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and hypertension. Almost half of U.S. health care costs in 1996 were borne by persons with one or more of these five conditions; of that spending amount, only about one-quarter was spent on treating conditions themselves and the remainder on coexistent illnesses. Each condition demonstrated substantial economic burden but also unique characteristics and patterns of service use driving those costs. The findings highlight the differing challenges involved in understanding needs and improving care across particular chronic conditions.

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