Americans Spend the Most on Lower Back and Neck Pain, Followed by Diabetes

Last modified: January 22, 2021

Healthcare is indeed an issue that never dies in the US. Back in 1996, $1.4 trillion was spent on healthcare, which equated to 13% of the country’s GDP. Fast forward to 2016, we can see that health expenses of individuals and insurers (both public and private) have more than doubled — $3.1 trillion to be exact. 

According to researchers and industry experts, the US now spends more on healthcare than any other country on the planet. The fast-rising costs just go to show how serious the health conditions faced by Americans are today.  

A study revealed that they spend the most on issues related to things such as lower back and neck pain as some $134.5 billion was allocated solely for the treatment of such health conditions. Around $77 billion came from private insurers whereas public insurers forked out $45 billion; out-of-pocket costs, on the other hand, reached $12 billion. 

The second-highest proportion of healthcare spending went to Diabetes cases at roughly $111 billion. Ischemic heart disease is the third most prevalent health issue in the country, accounting for $89 billion of the total spending, followed by injuries related to falls at $87 billion.    

The study authors observed healthcare spending over a 20-year period, analyzing data on insurance claims, federal budgets, out-of-pocket payments, as well as private and public insurance from 1996 to 2016. 

The authors said that spending on various health conditions comes from multiple sources, Medicare and Medicaid being the main ones. In 2017, they accounted for 21.2% and 17.5% of the total healthcare spending, respectively.  Meanwhile, private health insurance had 35.6% of the pie. Costs were mostly related to policies purchased within the state, coverage in federal marketplaces, and employer-based plans, among others.

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