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U.S. Arthritis Costs Surge by $41.6 Billion in Six Years

Cost of arthritis and related conditions expected to keep rising with aging, obesity and lack of exercise

FRIDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The cost of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions surged from $86.2 billion in 1997 to $127.8 billion in 2003, according to a report in the Jan. 12 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This upward spiral is expected to continue due to obesity and physical inactivity as the population ages.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data to calculate direct and indirect national and state-specific costs attributable to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States in 2003.

The researchers found that nationwide in 2003, arthritis and related costs totaled $80.8 billion in direct medical costs and $47 billion in indirect costs such as lost wages. This equals 1.2 percent of the gross domestic product, the researchers note.

The costs varied from $225.5 million in the District of Columbia to $12.1 billion for California. The trend is expected to keep spiraling upwards as the population ages.

"These findings signal the need for broader implementations of effective public health interventions, such as arthritis and chronic disease self-management programs, which can reduce medical expenditures among persons with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions," the authors write.

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