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

Posted on on January 01, 2002

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

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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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