AHRQ: Heart disease ranks as most costly condition in U.S in 2008

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Heart disease topped the list of most costly conditions in terms of overall expenditures in 2008, according to a brief released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Expenditures for heart disease-related care and treatment of men and women were $47.3 billion and $43.6 billion, respectively.

Hypertension was the most commonly reported condition for both men and women, and cancer captured the highest mean expenditures per person. The analysis was based on the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a nationally representative longitudinal survey that tracks healthcare utilization, status, expenditures and insurance use.  The survey includes noninstitutionalized men and women 18 years old and older.

Survey results showed that the top 10 most costly conditions remained the same as in 2007 but the ranking order changed. In 2008, heart disease was most costly, followed by cancer, mental disorders, trauma-related disorders, osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/asthma, hypertension, diabetes, back problems and hyperlipidemia.

Mean expenditures per person for heart disease care was $4,363 for men and $3,723 for women. Cancer was the only more costly mean expenditure per person condition, at $4,873 for men and $4,484 for women.

More than twice as many respondents reported having hypertension than having heart disease, though. Some 25.6 million men and 29.5 million women reported hypertension and 10.8 million men and 11.7 million women listed themselves as having heart disease.

More than half—52 percent—of women paid for their heart disease care through Medicare and while only 38.1 percent of men paid through Medicare. Heart failure care paid though private insurance was much higher for men, with 41.2 percent for men compared with 27.8 percent for women.

The statistical brief is available here.