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Heart conditions, cancer, trauma-related disorders, mental disorders, and asthma were the five most costly conditions in 1996 and 2006

Research Activities, November 2009

The number of Americans under care for depression and other mental illnesses nearly doubled between 1996 and 2006, and the overall cost of treating them jumped by nearly two-thirds, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The Agency's recent data analysis revealed that the number of patients treated for mental disorders, including depression and bipolar disease, increased from 19 million to 36 million. The overall treatment costs for mental disorders rose from $35 billion (in 2006 dollars) to nearly $58 billion, making it the costliest medical condition between 1996 and 2006. In addition, the study concluded that:

  • Heart disease, cancer, trauma-related disorders, and asthma joined mental disorders to comprise the five most costly conditions in both 1996 and 2006.
  • Overall spending for heart disease treatment increased the least, from $72 billion in 1996 to $78 billion in 2006.
  • Spending for cancer treatment went from $47 billion to $58 billion; asthma costs rose from $36 billion to $51 billion; and the cost to treat trauma-related disorders climbed from $46 billion to $68 billion.
  • In terms of average per-patient cost, cancer accounted for the highest, up slightly from $5,067 to $5,178, but treatment costs for trauma and asthma rose more steeply, increasing from $1,220 to $1,953 and from $863 to $1,059, respectively. In contrast, average per-patient spending for heart conditions and mental disorders fell from $4,333 to $3,964 and $1,825 to $1,591, respectively.

These findings were based on analysis of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, how often they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid. For more information, go to The Five Most Costly Conditions, 1996 and 2006: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitionalized Population, at http://meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_stats/Pub_ProdResults_Details.jsp?pt=Statistical%20Brief&opt=2&id=910.

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Current as of November 2009
Internet Citation: Heart conditions, cancer, trauma-related disorders, mental disorders, and asthma were the five most costly conditions in 1996 and 2006: Research Activities, November 2009. November 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/nov09/1109RA21.html