Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Back pain really hurts the wallet

, or 12 percent of Americans 18 and older, according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Of those reporting back problems, more than 19 million sought treatment resulting in $30.3 billion in health care spending that year.

Back pain really hurts the wallet

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Back problems from muscle strains to herniated discs are a growing problem in the U.S., afflicting 27 million adults in 2007, or 12 percent of Americans 18 and older, according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Of those reporting back problems, more than 19 million sought treatment resulting in $30.3 billion in health care spending that year.

More of that spending went for ambulatory care and prescription medications - $18.3 billion and $4.5 billion respectively – with the rest being spend on ER visits, hospital care including surgery, and rehabilitation. That’s an average of $1,589 per patient – $1,146 on average for doctors, chiropractors and other providers and $446 for prescription drugs. And that doesn’t include the spending on over-the-counter treatments.

And of that spending, patients picked up nearly 17 percent, with private insurers covering 45 percent and Medicare (23 percent) and other payers covering the remainder.

Overall spending on back problems nearly doubled in the decade since 1997 when $16 billion was spent treating the condition.

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Check Up is a blog for savvy health consumers, covering the latest developments, discoveries, and debates from the Philadelphia area and beyond.

Portions of this blog may also be found in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section.

Charlotte Sutton Health and Science Editor, Philadelphia Inquirer
Tom Avril Inquirer Staff Writer, heart health and general science
Stacey Burling Inquirer Staff Writer, neuroscience and aging
Marie McCullough Inquirer Staff Writer, cancer and women's health
Don Sapatkin Inquirer Staff Writer, public health
David Becker, M.D. Board certified cardiologist, Chestnut Hill Temple Cardiology
Michael R. Cohen, R.Ph. President, Institute for Safe Medication Practices
Daniel R. Hoffman, Ph.D. President, Pharmaceutical Business Research Associates
Hooman Noorchashm, M.D., Ph.D. Cardiothoracic surgeon in the Philadelphia area
Amy J. Reed, M.D., Ph.D. Anesthesiologist and Surgical Intensivist in the Philadelphia Area
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