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Overall Costs Of Arthritis Double Over 6 Years





April 27, 2007

HealthDay News

Spending On Arthritis Hits $322 Billion

People in the U.S. spent twice as much treating arthritis in 2003 as they did in 1998, according to a study out of the University of California, San Francisco.

The researchers said the increase was due to a sharp increase in people with joint problems and an increase in the number of medications taken each month by people.





"Arthritis can be a highly debilitating disease that, as this study shows, presents a substantial cost to our society," lead researcher Ed Yelin said. "We are also seeing a shift in the burden of that cost onto patients, who rely on Medicare to cover a large fraction of their inpatient care, but pay for a relatively larger share of their drug treatments from their own pockets."

From 1997 to 2003, the number of Americans with arthritis or other rheumatic conditions rose 25 percent from 36.8 million adults to 46.1 million. Those numbers correspond to 18.7 percent and 21.5 percent of the population, respectively.

During the same period, the cost of prescription drugs to treat the condition nearly doubled, from $897.60 per patient per year to $1,638, Yelin said. The change was due to both an increase in the mean number of prescriptions each patient received (from 18.7 per year to 25.2) and a rise in the cost of each prescription from $48 to $65, after adjusting for inflation. Total expenditures increased between 1997 and 2003 by about $88 billion a year, to roughly $322 billion.

However, individuals didn't see that much change. The average cost per person per year was $1,762 in 1997 and $1,752 in 2003 said Louise Murphy of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

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