As Boomers Age, Arthritis Costs Rise

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Arthritis medical costs in the U.S. topped $80 billion in 2003, up from nearly $65 billion in 1997.

Edward Yelin, Ph.D., and colleagues report that news in Arthritis & Rheumatism. Yelin works at the University of California, San Francisco.

Yelin's team reviewed medical cost data on 22,000 U.S. adults in 1997 and 23,000 U.S. adults in 2003.

In 1997, nearly 37 million people in the U.S. had arthritis. That figure rose to 46.1 million people in 2003, many of whom are baby boomers, note Yelin and colleagues.

The rise in arthritis medical costs included a near doubling of prescription drug costs, which rose from about $33 billion in 1997 to roughly $75 billion in 2003. Average arthritis prescription costs per person were $141 in 1997 and $338 in 2003, the study shows.

In-patient treatment costs dropped during the same period, the study shows. In 1997, average inpatient costs per arthritis patient totaled $508, dropping to $352 per person in 2003.

Yelin and colleagues foresee rising medical costs for arthritis. They write that "because the number of persons with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions is projected to increase steadily to nearly 67 million by 2030, the economic impact is likely to continue to grow."

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D
By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D
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