Arthritis costs and burden are escalating

Jan 06, 2010

The dollars being spent on aggregate overall direct medical expenditures for adults with arthritis are almost double the group's share of the population.

The dollars being spent on aggregate overall direct medical expenditures for adults with arthritis are almost double the group's share of the population. The societal and individual burden of arthritis has increased, and this increase probably will grow.

Cisternas and associates reexamined the prevalence of arthritis and evaluated all medical expenditures occurring in adults with arthritis. Participants were divided into arthritis-only and arthritis-plus-comorbidity groups. Data were gathered from a survey that monitors about 22,000 persons annually.

The arthritis population increased by 22% over the study period; most increases were in the comorbidity subgroup. The overall mean cost of health care for the arthritis group exceeded medical inflation by 2.8%; the pattern of increase varied between the subgroups. Inpatient care accounted for most of the expense in 1997, but this was matched by ambulatory care costs from 2001 on. Over the entire study period, prescription costs rose steadily and home health care expenditures decreased by 3%. The total cost of care increased by 40% over the study period, primarily in the arthritis-plus-comorbidity group.

The authors noted that public health responses to risk factors shared across many chronic diseases may yield substantial health and economic benefits.

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