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America’s Arthritis Patients Take Sizeable Chunks Of Healthcare Econom

003, although on a per-person basis during the same time period, the amount of lost wages slightly decreased for working adults, from $4,551 to $3,613.

"Why? I think it has to do with the state of the labor market at the two points, but this is pure speculation. The important point is that population growth meant a substantial national impact, even though on a personal level, on average, there was a lower figure”, opines Yelin.

According to Dr. Doyt Conn, professor of medicine and director of the division of rheumatology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, the study highlighted the health care consequences of treating the large aging population. In particular, he noted the jump in drug costs facing arthritis sufferers -- $1,635 per person in 2003 versus $899 in 1997.

Says Yelin: "Our nation is going to have to confront this issue and see if we can do a good job with reducing the cost of drugs.”

Murphy said she and her colleagues were surprised to find the cost increases were mostly attributable to people rather than procedures.

"We thought that the average costs [of treating arthritis and other rheumatic conditions] would increase because of the cost of the costly drugs, and the increased number of hip and knee surgeries," she said. Instead, they learned that while per-person spending for prescription drugs did climb sharply, almost doubling during the six-year period, other costs, including hospital stays, dropped enough so that actual per-person spending remained unchanged.

"We found that the driving reason for the higher spending was the increase in the number of people with arthritis”, says Murphy.

Murphy urges those with arthritis to become proactive in reducing their pain and improving their health. "There are ways to cope with arthritis pain through self-management and through weight loss," she opines.
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