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      Trends in medical care expenditures of US adults with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions 1997 to 2005.


      OBJECTIVE: To examine trends in annual medical expenditures from 1997 to 2005 among adults with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions (denoted Arthritis group).

      METHODS: We analyzed annual medical expenditures (2005 US dollars) among adults with Arthritis using the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a nationally representative survey of the US civilian, noninstitutionalized population. Expenditures were stratified by Arthritis and comorbidity status.

      RESULTS: The Arthritis population increased by 22% (36.8 to 44.9 million) during this period, attributable entirely to the subpopulation with at least one comorbid condition (31.8 to 40.3 million). The overall, inflation-adjusted annual mean medical expenditures for adults with Arthritis increased from $6,848 in 1997 to $7,854 in 2005. In 1997, inpatient care was the most expensive component of overall expenditures (mean $2,702), but beginning in 2001, mean inpatient and ambulatory expenditures were almost identical. Mean prescription expenditures increased nearly every year, almost doubling from $970 in 1997 to $1,811 in 2005. Aggregate total expenditures for the Arthritis population increased markedly during this period, from $252.0 to $353.0 billion (+40%). Most of this increase was attributable to the population increase in the Arthritis and comorbid condition subgroup.

      CONCLUSION: Mean annual ambulatory and prescription expenditures for adults with Arthritis increased far above the rate of medical inflation, offsetting a relative decline in inpatient expenditures. Increases in overall mean and aggregate total expenditures are attributable to the increasing number of adults with Arthritis and at least one comorbid chronic condition. Projected increases in this population suggest that these expenditures will continue to rise.

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