Five of the costliest medical conditions accounted for nearly one-third of the increase of almost $200 billion in healthcare spending from 1987 to 2000, according to a new study that appeared as a Web exclusive in the journal Health Affairs.
The study, conducted by Emory University economist Kenneth Thorpe, charted healthcare spending by patients with the 15 costliest medical conditions. He concluded that the sharp increase in healthcare spending is due in large part to the rise in the number of individuals who undergo treatment for medical conditions like heart disease, pulmonary conditions, medical disorders, cancer and hypertension, among others.
For example, Thorpe and his colleagues found little change in the number of people treated for heart disease from 1987 to 2000. Yet the cost of treating those patients increased by about 70% as a result of more expensive -- and effective -- drugs and technologies.
"If we really want to get a handle on rising healthcare costs, we need to analyze what it is we're spending money on, instead of where we're spending the money," Thorpe said.
Read the Health Affairs report.