Despite spending more than 3 trillion dollars each year on health care expenses, statistics tell us Americans are in poorer health and have shorter life expectancies than many other global populations. Now, a new study looks at just where the money is going—and what it says about the state of health in the United States.
After analyzing nearly two decades of data, researchers from the University of Washington determined that diabetes tops the list in terms of annual health care costs, coming in at $101.4 billion. The number of people with diabetes is also increasing at a rapid rate (36X faster than heart disease), which many experts attribute to an unhealthy diet and lifestyle.
Heart disease, still the leading cause of death among U.S. men and women, was next on the list ($88.1 million annually), followed by low back and neck pain ($87.6 billion annually). Combined with high blood pressure and injuries resulting from falls, this trio of conditions accounted for 18% of health care spending in 2013—more than $400 billion dollars.
“This paper offers private insurers, physicians, health policy experts, and government leaders a comprehensive review,” said study co-author Dr. Christopher Murray in a recent new release. He and his team believe learning more about health care spending is an important step toward improving patient care and education nationwide.