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More money spent on medical care for back problems

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 9, 2010

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The amount of funds shelled out to treat pain and other medical issues affecting the back nearly doubled from 1997 to 2007, and much of the money went to pay for ambulatory services, according to a statistical brief issued July 28 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Approximately $16 billion was spent to treat back problems in 1997. This grew to $30.3 billion in 2007 with $18.3 billion going towards ambulatory services. Another $4.5 billion paid for prescription medications.

Numbers have been adjusted for inflation and are in 2007 dollars.

When averaged out per individual, $1,589 was spent per person for all medical care related to a back problem. Of this, $1,146 went to ambulatory care.

Private insurers covered 45.2% of these expenses, and Medicare covered 23%. Another 16.8% was paid out-of-pocket, and 15% was from a source labeled as "other."

Approximately, 11.9% of adults report some form of back trouble, and the condition accounts for 3% of all health expenditures.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/08/09/bibf0809.htm.

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