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Arthritis Costs Are Double That of Other Patients

October 19, 2004

Medical care expenditures for those with arthritis are at least double the amount spent by those without arthritis, according to research presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in San Antonio.

Researchers from Northwestern University used results from the 1999-2000 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to track expenditures for patients with arthritis within a national sample of nearly 4,200 individuals, age 45 and older. 

The greatest factor contributing to high costs of treating arthritis was found to be functional limitation.  Two in five respondents with arthritis had some form of functional limitation, which is more than three times the frequency of limitations among persons without arthritis.

“Arthritis-related functional limitation is a major contributor to high U.S. health care costs. Public health and clinical approaches to prevent and treat functional limitations in persons with arthritis should be pursued,” said Orit Almagor, of the Northwestern University Institute for Health Services Research and Policy Studies, who was lead investigator on the study.

MEPS followed these individuals for two years, capturing self-reported baseline information, such as demographics, functional limitation and chronic diseases including arthritis.  The tracked health care expenditures encompassed office- and hospital-based care, home health care, dental services, vision aids, other medical equipment and services and prescribed medicines.

Data from the study demonstrated that total health care expenditures for persons with arthritis are at least doubled when compared to those in the general population for all levels of expenditures examined.  Even after adjusting for demographics, other health conditions and economic status, expenditures for those with arthritis remained at least 1.5 times higher. 

Topics: Research