Study Indicates Mental Disorders, Heart Conditions Are Most Expensive Medical Conditions In The US

February 26, 2009 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

A first-of-its-kind study indicates that mental disorders and heart conditions are the two most expensive medical conditions in the United States in terms of personal health spending.

The information comes from ground-breaking research lead by Dr. Charles Roehrig of Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Altarum Institute. Published in Health Affairs, the study – “National Health Spending by Medical Condition, 1996-2005” – for the first time ever provides annual estimates of national personal health spending by medical condition.

“By offering an estimate of health expenditures by medical condition, this research provides a starting point for analyzing how to achieve sustainable expenditure growth without compromising value,” said Roehrig.

The study indicates that spending for mental disorders – such as anxiety, depression, and dementia – was the highest, accounting for $142.2 billion in 2005, or 9 percent of personal health spending. Heart conditions were the second most expensive condition in the United States, amounting to $123 billion in 2005, 8 percent of personal health spending.

Roehrig’s research also found that personal health spending in the United States grew by about 7 percent annually from 1996 to 2005. During the same period, economy-wide price inflation averaged only 2 percent and population growth averaged 1 percent. According to the study, changes in prevalence, treatment patterns, and costs per treatment were responsible for about 4 percentage points of the average annual growth rate in personal health spending.

The research involved integrating data from the National Health Expenditures Accounts, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the National Nursing Home Survey, and other national datasets. The study was co-authored by George Miller, also of Altarum Institute; Craig Lake of the Arbor Research Collaborative for Health; and Jenny Bryant of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

The study can be reached from the Altarum Institute Web site, or at

Altarum Institute integrates objective research and client-centered consulting skills to deliver comprehensive, systems-based solutions that improve health and health care. A nonprofit serving clients in the public and private sectors, Altarum employs more than 350 individuals and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan with additional offices in the Washington, DC area; Atlanta, Georgia; Portland, Maine; and San Antonio, Texas.

Altarum Institute



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