“After adjusting for inflation, we see that every year the U.S. is spending 6 percent more than we spent the year before on diabetes,” said lead researcher Joseph Dieleman, assistant professor at the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
“That’s really a remarkable growth rate, notably faster than the economy is growing or health care spending as a whole,” he said.
The annual rate of growth in health care spending between 1996 and 2013 has been 3.5 percent on average, Dieleman noted.
“Spending on diabetes grew twice as fast as all conditions combined” during that 18-year period, he said.
The study findings were published in the Dec. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Americans spent $2.1 trillion in 2013 on diagnosis and treatment of health problems, which amounts to more than 17 percent of the total U.S. economy, the researchers concluded from their analysis of federal data.
“That is a staggering, almost unimaginable amount,” Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel wrote in an editorial accompanying the new study. Emanuel is chair of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Indeed, this level of spending makes the U.S. health care system the fifth largest economy in the world, behind only the U.S., Chinese, Japanese and German national economies,” Emanuel pointed out.
Dieleman and his colleagues broke down the $2.1 trillion spent in 2013 across 155 different health conditions, to see which diseases were drawing in the most dollars.
The top 10 most costly health expenses in 2013, according to the analysis, were:
- Diabetes — $101.4 billion.
- Ischemic heart disease — $88.1 billion.
- Low back and neck pain — $87.6 billion.
- High blood pressure — $83.9 billion.
- Injuries from falls — $76.3 billion.
- Depression — $71.1 billion.
- Dental care — $66.4 billion.
- Vision and hearing problems — $59 billion.
- Skin-related problems — $55.7 billion.
- Pregnancy and postpartum care — $55.6 billion.
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SOURCE: HealthDay News