Osteoarthritis costs $185B annually in U.S.

New research has concluded that care for osteoarthritis patients in the U.S. costs $185.5 billion per year, most of which is borne by health plans.

The study, which appears in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, looked at 1996 to 2005 data from The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The data included 84,647 women and 70,590 men with health insurance, and took in physician, hospital and outpatient services, drugs, diagnostic tests and related medical services.

Upon analyzing this data, researchers concluded that annual insurer costs for osteoarthritis are $4,833 for female patients and $4,036 for male patients. Insurers paid about $149.4 billion in overall costs, and patients paid $36.1 billion in out-of-pocket costs.

The authors recommend improving screening for OA and increasing awareness of the disease, both of which could reduce the likelihood of patients' developing more severe cases of the illness.

To get more background on the study:
- read this HealthDay News piece

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