The High Cost of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of the more than 100 different rheumatic conditions that comprise of “arthritis”. OA affects an estimated 32.5 million U.S. adults, however this number is expected to increase as baby boomers age because older adults have a higher prevalence of arthritis and OA. By 2040, the number of adults with arthritis is projected to increase to 78.4 million, most of whom will have OA. Although there is limited OA-specific cost data and the majority of cost estimates reflect the total cost of all forms of arthritis, the disease is costly to the nation, states, employer, individual, and society:
Cost to the Nation: From 2013-2015, adults with arthritis reported 180.9 million total lost work days, which constituted 34% of reported lost work days for any medical condition.
Cost to the States: The most recently reported costs of arthritis by state are from 2003. Total costs of arthritis ranged from $226 million in the District of Columbia to $12.1 billion in California.
Cost to the Employer: While OA is more common among employees in certain occupations such as mining, construction, agriculture, and sectors of the service industry, OA can interfere with the ability to be productive while on ANY job.
Cost to the Individual: On average, medical costs per person due to arthritis were $2,117.
Cost to Society: OA disproportionately affects women and minorities. Additionally, it has been reported that African Americans receive 39% fewer total knee replacements than whites despite similar levels of severe OA.
When you look at how much we spend on social programs in our country, it separates us from a lot of countries. In our country, if you’re hungry, we’ll feed you. If you’re homeless, we’ll house you. If you’re too poor to be sick, we’ll pay for your doctor. But all of that comes at a cost.