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Abstract

Osteoporotic fractures are a significant public health problem, resulting in substantial morbidity and mortality. Previous estimates of the economic burden of osteoporosis, however, have not fully accounted for the costs associated with treatment of nonhip fractures, minority populations, or men. Accordingly, the 1995 total direct medical expenditures for the treatment of osteoporotic fractures were estimated for all persons aged 45 years or older in the United States by age group, sex, race, type of fracture, and site of service (inpatient hospital, nursing home, and outpatient). Osteoporosis attribution probabilities were used to estimate the proportion of health service utilization and expenditures for fractures that resulted from osteoporosis. Health care expenditures attributable to osteoporotic fractures in 1995 were estimated at $13.8 billion, of which $10.3 billion (75.1%) was for the treatment of white women, $2.5 billion (18.4%) for white men, $0.7 billion (5.3%) for nonwhite women, and $0.2 billion (1.3%) for nonwhite men. Although the majority of U.S. health care expenditures for the treatment of osteoporotic fractures were for white women, one-fourth of the total was borne by other population subgroups. By site-of-service, $8.6 billion (62.4%) was spent for inpatient care, $3.9 billion (28.2%) for nursing home care, and $1.3 billion (9.4%) for outpatient services. Importantly, fractures at skeletal sites other than the hip accounted for 36.9% of the total attributed health care expenditures nationally. The contribution of nonhip fractures to the substantial morbidity and expenditures associated with osteoporosis has been underestimated by previous researchers.