AHRQ details costliest medical conditions

The top medical conditions for overall spending have generally remained static for a decade, although the amount being spent on these ailments has risen substantially, according to data from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Among the top conditions for spending were cardiac conditions, trauma-related injuries, cancer, and asthma.

The AHRQ adjusted spending numbers to constant 2012 dollars for its study. Heart condition spending rose from $83.5 billion in 2002 to $101 billion in 2012. Spending on trauma-related injuries rose from $68.9 billion to $93.1 billion. Cancer had the highest percentage increase, from $59.8 billion to $87.5 billion, a 48 percent increase. Asthma was close behind, rising from $55.9 billion to $75.9 billion. But spending on mental health disorders also rose significantly, from $58.6 billion to $83.6 billion.

Other reports indicate that diabetes spending--particularly for children--is rising as well, UPI reported.

Per-person expenditures were fairly steady for cancer, mental disorders and heart conditions. But they rose significantly for traumas, which rose from $1,933 to $2,609. Per-person asthma expenses also rose, from $1,113 to $1,681.

The percentage of costs that patients paid out-of-pocket dropped for heart conditions from 8.6 percent of the total to 3.8 percent; for cancer from 7.1 percent to 5 percent; and for mental disorders from 11.5 percent to 8.8 percent. But they rose slightly for asthma and trauma-related disorders.

The AHRQ did not provide further analysis of the data, but healthcare spending as a whole has been rising steadily over the past decade. Still, a combination of the Great Recession and the Affordable Care Act has cut its rise from nearly double-digit growth to a path that hews more closely to actual consumer inflation in recent years. Late last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said that Medicare spending has been increasing at a historically low rate.

However, more recent data than what was issued by AHRQ suggests that spending may start increasing at a higher rate.

To learn more:
- read the AHRQ data 
- check out the UPI article