Just 20 conditions make up more than half of all spending on health care in the United States, a new study that examined spending by diseases and injuries said on Tuesday.
Researchers from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) tracked the costs associated with 155 conditions between 1996 and 2013 and found a total of 30.1 trillion U.S. dollars was spent by Americans in personal health care over the 18-year period.
Of these conditions, diabetes was the most expensive one, totalling 101 billion dollars in diagnoses and treatments in 2013, while ischemic heart disease was the second most expensive one, costing 88 billion dollars that year.
The study, published in the U.S. journal JAMA, showed that costs associated with diabetes have grown 36 times faster than those for ischemic heart disease, which was the number-one cause of death for the study period.
While these two conditions typically affect individuals 65 and older, low back and neck pain, the third-most expensive condition, primarily strikes adults of working age.
These three top spending categories, along with hypertension and injuries from falls, comprised 18 percent of all personal health spending, and totaled 437 billion dollars in 2013.
Other expensive conditions among the top 20 included musculoskeletal disorders; depressive disorders; oral-related problems; vision and hearing problems; skin-related problems; and pregnancy and postpartum care.
It also found that women aged 85 and older spent the most per person in 2013, at more than 31,000 dollars per person, while men aged 85 and older spent 24,000 dollars per person that year.
In all, Americans spent about 2.4 trillion dollars on personal health care for the 155 conditions in 2013.
"While it is well known that the U.S. spends more than any other nation on health care, very little is known about what diseases drive that spending." Joseph Dieleman, lead author of the paper and Assistant Professor at the IHME, said in a statement.
"IHME is trying to fill the information gap so that decision-makers in the public and private sectors can understand the spending landscape, and plan and allocate health resources more effectively."