Health Conditions With Soaring Medical Costs in America

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The United States spends more on healthcare than any other developed country – sometimes more than $400,000 per person over a lifetime for the average American. Of course, certain medical conditions can be much more expensive to treat than others, and the costs of treatment for some common ailments are rising. (Here are the most common ailments in America.)

To identify 25 health conditions with soaring medical costs in America, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the Medical Care Expenditure Index, which measures the growth in cost per case spending using annual data through 2019, from the Health Care Satellite Account – a set of statistics measuring U.S. health care spending produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

We used the BEA’s Blended Account database, which blends together data from multiple sources, including large claims databases that cover millions of enrollees and billions of claims. This dataset was last updated by the BEA on Dec. 6, 2021. Total dollars spent in 2019 and 2009, as well as total episodes of care for each condition in 2019 also came from the BEA.

Numerous factors influence which ailments are becoming more expensive. In some cases the high cost of advanced pharmaceutical treatments has driven up the total cost of care. HIV, for example, is increasingly costly to treat in part because there is no cap on drug prices in the U.S., which means price regulation relies on competition – and patents on many newer, more effective HIV drugs prevent other companies from providing lower-cost, generic options.

In the case of cystic fibrosis – which represents the single fastest-rising medical cost in America – advances in treatment have led to longer life spans for those born with this autosomal recessive disease. This has led to an increase in the prevalence of cystic fibrosis in the adult population, translating to a higher cost of care over a person’s lifetime. Cystic fibrosis also happens to top the list of the most expensive ailments in America.

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