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Analyzing Trends in Dollars Spent for Back & Neck Conditions

Analyzing Trends in Dollars Spent for Back & Neck Conditions

More than half of all adults will experience back or neck pain at some point during their lifetime, and these health issues currently rank as the second most common reason for medical visits, trailing only upper respiratory infections. Recently, expenditures on spinal conditions in the United States have increased significantly despite few changes in the overall health status of people who experience these conditions. Estimates vary, but it is generally believed that about $90 billion is spent on the diagnosis and management of low back and neck pain each year. An additional $10 to $20 billion annually is attributed to economic losses in productivity. “Little is known about the pattern of expenditures for different health services for managing patients with back and neck pain,” says Jon D. Lurie, MD, MS. “While it has been generally accepted that medical care costs per unit have become more expensive, few analyses have explored costs relating to other non-medical services, such as chiropractic care and physical therapy.” A Deeper Review of Back & Neck Expenditures It is important for health policy makers to examine expenditures on the different ambulatory health services for back and neck conditions, according to Dr. Lurie. “This information can provide insights into the effects of health policy decisions and inform future strategies for containing costs. A better understanding of spending patterns on health services is needed to gain a better picture of the overall cost and effectiveness of spinal interventions to improve health.” Using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Dr. Lurie and colleagues reviewed U.S. expenditures on common health services used for managing spine conditions in a...
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