As the pressure to reduce the costs of health care increases, chronic illness becomes a major source of policy and financial concerns. Osteoarthritis is rightly considered as one of the costliest chronic health disorders facing adults in the developed world. According to the Arthritis Foundation (2008), the disease affects approximately 27 million Americans, and women are more susceptible to the risks of osteoarthritis than men. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011) offer a brief insight into the financial costs of osteoarthritis in the United States. Unfortunately, the financial information provided is quite limited and raises a number of questions in relation to its validity and relevance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011) suggest that an estimated cost of knee and hip replacement in the United States is $7.9 billion. A person with osteoarthritis spends on average $2,600 per year in out-of-pocket expenses (CDC, 2011). Total annual costs of osteoarthritis make up approximately $5,700 per capita (CDC, 2011). Job-related costs of osteoarthritis range between $3.4 and $13.2 billion annually (CDC, 2011). The Arthritis Foundation (2008) provides the same figures, suggesting that both organizations use the same source of information, when it comes to evaluating the financial costs of osteoarthritis.
The problem with this information is that it is not updated regularly. The Arthritis Foundation (2008) and CDC (2011) used the sources of financial data that were dated at the end of the 1990s. Earlier in this course, the financial costs of osteoarthritis have been reviewed and reconsidered. Kotlarz, Gunnarsson, Fang and Rizzo (2009) offered a useful update on the financial expenses burdening individuals with osteoarthritis. In distinction from CDC (2011), Kotlarz et al. (2009) estimated the total costs of osteoarthritis at $185.5 billion per year. The direct costs of osteoarthritis per capita were also found to be much higher than the costs cited by CDC (2011): Bitton (2009) confirmed that patients with osteoarthritis had to spend no less than $4,000 per year in direct health care expenses. Apparently, the scholarly and empirical resources published within the past three-four years exemplify a more interesting and reliable source of financial information for patients with osteoarthritis than certain government resources. At the same time, these discrepancies in financial data can be easily explained.
Kotlarz et al. (2009) list a number of problems in relation to the data published by government resources. First, government and public organizations cite the results of the studies published at the end of the 1990s (Kotlarz et al., 2009). Therefore, the data presented on government websites tend to be outdated. Second, the quality of these studies raises many questions. On the one hand, most studies cited by the government and public resources are regionally based (Kotlarz et al., 2009). Consequently, their results may not be generalizable to other financial settings. On the other hand, many of these studies do not involve any multivariate statistical analyses, thus rendering their results as insufficient and even invalid (Kotlarz et al., 2009). As such, patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis are likely to experience difficulties, as they are trying to estimate the costs of their disease.
In conclusion, the data on the financial costs of osteoarthritis presented on public and government websites tend to be unreliable and outdated. The most recent empirical studies represent a better source of information regarding the financial expenses carried by patients with osteoarthritis. As of 2009, the direct annual costs of osteoarthritis were estimated at $4,000 per capita (Bitton, 2009). The total costs of osteoarthritis reached $185.5 billion per year (Kotlarz et al., 2009). Obviously, government and public health organizations and agencies should regularly update their financial data, so that every patient diagnosed with osteoarthritis can reasonably estimate his/her opportunities to carry the enormous costs of the chronic disease.
- Arthritis Foundation. (2008). News from the Arthritis Foundation. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.arthritis.org/files/images/newsroom/media- kits/Osteoarthritis_fact_sheet.pdf.
- Bitton, R. (2009). The economic burden of osteoarthritis. American Journal of Managed Care, 15(8 Suppl), S230-S235.
- CDC. (2011). Osteoarthritis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm#7.
- Kotlarz, H., Gunnarsson, C.L., Fang, H. & Rizzo, J.A. (2009). Insurer and out-of-pocket costs of osteoarthritis in the US. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 60(12), 3546-3553. DOI: 10.1002/art.24984.