This is for our readers who practice pain management.
By Joe Elia
The total U.S. health bill for 2016 — excluding over-the-counter drugs, home health care, and spending on research and infrastructure — came to some $3.1 trillion, researchers estimate in JAMA. That represents over a doubling in spending since 1996.
Payment came from private health insurers (48%), government health insurance (43%), and out-of-pocket payments (9%). Low back and neck pain constituted the top two spending spots. These two, combined with other musculoskeletal disorders, consumed over a quarter of a trillion dollars in 2016.
A commentator notes encouraging declines in spending for ischemic heart disease, heart failure, colorectal cancer, and lower-respiratory-tract infections, which “likely reflect population-wide improvements in primary and secondary prevention.”
What weren’t encouraging were findings for rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, where expensive specialty drugs are commonly used. For such drugs, he advocates negotiations with drug makers based on “rigorous cost-effectiveness analysis.”