Trends in the Five Most Costly Conditions

MEPS Statistical Brief No. 470

Trends in the Five Most Costly Conditions, a statistical brief from the Household Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), presents data regarding medical expenditures associated with the top five most costly conditions in 2002 and 2012. The five most costly conditions were heart conditions, trauma-related disorders, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, and mental disorders.

The top five conditions were determined by totaling and ranking the expenses for the medical care delivered for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic conditions. Expenditures may be associated with more than one condition and are not unduplicated in the condition totals. In terms of health care expenditures, the same five conditions were ranked among the five most costly conditions in 2002 and 2012. There was an increase in the expenditures for each of these conditions when comparing both years.

Highlights:

  • The same five medical conditions—heart conditions, cancer, trauma-related disorders, mental disorders, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma—were ranked highest for medical spending in both 2002 and 2012.
  • Heart conditions accounted for the highest total spending in both 2002 and 2012.
  • The number of people with expenses for mental disorders increased from 31 million in 2002 to 45 million in 2012.
  • Among these five medical conditions, mean expenditures per person were highest for cancer and heart conditions in both 2002 and 2012.
  • The percentage of out-of-pocket expenses was highest for the treatment of mental disorders in both 2002 and 2012 among the top five most expensive conditions.

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Page last reviewed April 2015
Internet Citation: Trends in the Five Most Costly Conditions: MEPS Statistical Brief No. 470. April 2015. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/meps1.html