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Abstract

Objective

To obtain estimates of medical care expenditures and earnings losses associated with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions and the increment in such costs attributable to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the US in 2003, and to compare these estimates with those from 1997.

Methods

Estimates for 2003 were derived from the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS), a national probability sample of households. We tabulated medical care expenditures of adult MEPS respondents, stratified by arthritis and comorbidity status, and used regression techniques to estimate the increment of medical care expenditures attributable to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions. We also estimated the earnings losses sustained by working-age adults with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions. Estimates for 2003 were compared with those from 1997, inflated to 2003 terms.

Results

In 2003, there were 46.1 million adults with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions (versus 36.8 million in 1997). Adults with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions incurred mean medical care expenditures of $6,978 in 2003 (versus $6,346 in 1997), of which $1,635 was for prescriptions ($899 in 1997). Expenditures for adults with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions totaled $321.8 billion in 2003 ($233.5 billion in 1997). In 2003, the mean increment in medical care expenditures attributable to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions was $1,752 ($1,762 in 1997), for a total of $80.8 billion ($64.8 billion in 1997). Persons with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions ages 18–64 years earned $3,613 less than other persons (versus $4,551 in 1997), for a total of $108.0 billion (versus $99.0 billion). Of this amount, $1,590 was attributable to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions (versus $1,946 in 1997), for a total of $47.0 billion ($43.3 billion in 1997).

Conclusion

Our findings indicate that the increase in medical care expenditures and earnings losses between 1997 and 2003 is due more to an increase in the number of persons with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions than to costs per case.