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SAN FRANCISCO -- The aging population has escalated the national price tag for arthritis and other rheumatic conditions by nearly 25% in seven years, investigators here reported.
SAN FRANCISCO, April 27 -- The aging population has escalated the national price tag for arthritis and other rheumatic conditions by nearly 25% in seven years, investigators here reported.
Citing a decline in hospital costs for the conditions from 1997 through 2003, and stable average costs for medical care, the aging population stood out as the primary cause for the rise in national expenditures, the researchers reported in the May issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism.
Those with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions increased to more than 46 million, some 21% of the population, and treatment costs hit .8 billion, said Edward Yelin, Ph.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues at the CDC.
Arthritis patients included those with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, while other disorders included lupus, gout, and bursitis.
The data emerged from the Medical Expenditures Panel Study, a national probability sample of households. The researchers tabulated medical care costs for adult respondents, stratified by arthritis status, and used regression techniques to assess the medical care expenditures attributable to arthritis and related rheumatic diseases, plus individual loss of income.
Among other findings:
The investigators said the number of persons with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions is projected to increase steadily to nearly 67 million by 2030, so that the economic impact is likely to continue to grow.
Because the ability to prevent the onset of various types of arthritis is limited, Dr. Yelin's team called for cost-effective efforts to decrease mean medical expenditures and reduce unemployment. To accomplish this requires greater use of underutilized interventions, such as self-management education and programs to increase physical activity, they concluded.