Thursday, May 4, 2017

Research Looks Into Where Healthcare Dollars Are Being Spent

Ever wonder what your healthcare dollars go toward?  New data reveal that spending from 1996 to 2013 had gone far beyond individual treatment and helping alleviate co-pays for doctors' visits. The research breaks it down by 155 conditions, 6 types of health care, and 38 age and sex categories. Despite the growth in healthcare spending very little is known about how spending on each condition varies, especially by age. Healthcare spending in the United States is greater than in any other country in the world, so it’s very important to understand why. This study looked at government budgets, insurance claims, facility surveys, household surveys, and official US records from 1996-2013.

According to this study, the three most expensive conditions in 2013 were:
1)   Diabetes - $101 billion
2)   Ischemic heart disease - $88 billion
3)   Low back & neck pain - $88 billion
Another finding from this study showed that 38% of personal health spending in 2013 was for people over age 65.  Treatment of two conditions, hypertension and hyperlipidemia, were among the top 20 incurring spending. These results are not surprising, but it’s good to have factual evidence for it.

What makes this study different from its predecessors is that it “contains information and methodological improvements that were lacking in existing studies.” This will help “researchers and policy makers to focus more precisely on which conditions had increased spending, as well as on the ages and types of care where growth in health care spending is most accurate.” Hopefully this information will help to control US healthcare spending and at the very least provide a framework for future investigations into health care spending. Thoughts?

 Rachel Miller 
DUCOM 2017


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