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  • Yearly Costs of Chronic Pain Exceed Those of Cancer, Heart Disease, and Diabetes

    The annual cost of chronic pain is as high as $635 billion a year, which is more than the yearly costs for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, say health economists from Johns Hopkins University in this month's The Journal of Pain.

    The researchers estimated the annual economic costs of chronic pain in the United States by assessing incremental costs of health care due to pain and the indirect costs of pain from lower productivity. They compared the costs of health care for people with chronic pain with those who do not report chronic pain. The authors defined people with pain as those who have pain that limits their ability to work, are diagnosed with joint pain or arthritis, or have a disability that limits capacity for work.

    Data from the 2008 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey was used to gauge the economic burden of pain. The sample included 20,214 individuals 18 and older to represent 210.7 million US adults.

    Results showed that mean health care expenditures for adults were $4,475. Prevalence estimates for pain conditions were 10% for moderate pain, 11% for severe pain, 33% for joint pain, 25% for arthritis, and 12% for functional disability. Persons with moderate pain had health care expenditures $4,516 higher than someone with no pain, and individuals with severe pain had costs $3,210 higher than those with moderate pain. Similar differences were found for other pain conditions: $4,048 higher for joint pain, $5,838 for arthritis, and $9,680 for functional disabilities.

    Also, adults with pain reported missing more days from work than people without pain. Pain negatively impacted 3 components of productivity—work days missed, number of annual hours worked, and hourly wages.

    Based on their analysis of the data, the authors determined that that the total cost for pain in the United States ranged from $560 to $635 billion. Total incremental costs of health care due to pain ranged from $261 to $300 billion, and the value of lost productivity ranged from $299 to $334 billion. Compared with other major disease conditions, the per-person cost of pain is lower but the total cost is higher.

    The authors noted their conclusions are conservative because the analysis did not consider the costs of pain for institutionalized and noncivilian populations, for persons under 18, and for caregivers.


    • This is going to be rather long so let me apologize in advance for its length and encourage you to read all of this comment on what I call THE PAIN TAX The reason Chronic Pain Costs exceed all those other medical conditions mentioned above id reactionary legislation passed by the Ohio House, (Ohio House Bill 93) and the massive additional costs that, Medicare, Medicaid, Health Insurance Companies and most importantly, chronic pain patients, are now required to cover because of this ill though out Legislation. Here is the main reason why the cost of treating chronic pain in Ohio has suddenly exploded, because of this moronic House Bill 93 doctors are NOW FORBIDDEN to include refills on prescriptions for pain medication (AND a lot of other types of medications that aren't related to pain treatment, like ADHD medications)! Imagine the added costs involved and how much could be saved if chronic pain patients didn't have to make a trip to the doctor EVERY MONTH as Ohio House Bill 93 MANDATES, and pay an average of $250.00 FOR EVERY VISIT, just to get a new prescription, for medications that most of us have been on for YEARS. Changing JUST THIS ONE RULE and allowing doctors to put refills on all prescriptions would save at patients, health insurance companies and TAXPAYER at LEAST 75% on office visit fees alone. And when you consider the added costs of things like gas, missed work the savings grow even higher. This stupid, moronic Ohio House Bill 93 ALSO REQUIRES that drug testing take place every 3 months for chronic pain patients and the costs of these tests AVERAGE $700.00 (EVERY TIME I have to pee in a cup it costs about $700.00 sometimes more, sometimes SLIGHTLY less). I recently heard reports that PARENTS of children being treated for ADHD with medication are now required to "pee in that cup") And imagine the added costs to these parents that also have to take a day off work, take their child out of school, and make that House Bill 93 MANDATED MONTHLY trip to the doctor. And I expect the costs of treating chronic pain will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. The reason for this, easily predictable increase, in the cost of treating pain patients is easy to see, and is the DIRECT RESULT AGAIN of Ohio House Bill 93 in practice acts a lot like "TRAP" legislation introduced in other states to specifically target and force women's health clinics out of their state or "better yet out of business. This type of "TRAP Legislation" results in fewer and fewer doctors willing treat pain patients. And with fewer and fewer doctors refusing to treat pain patients the price to see a doctor willing to treat pain patients is going to continue to go up for the foreseeable future. Its basic supply and demand economics, the fewer there is of something the higher the cost, so fewer doctors equals higher costs. I actually used to be able to go to my regular doctor in the town I live and get the treatment. Since Ohio House Bill 93 took affect I now have to drive 100 miles (one way) EVERY month just to get that same treatment. I also firmly believe that Ohio is trying to practice law enforcement the lazy way, over the shoulders of both doctors and patients. Because EVERY 3rd month you have to submit to House Bill 93's MANDATED drug test. And while I DO understand the need to test on occasion, there is no benefit to MANDATED testing EVERY 3 months. Seriously, who is going to fail a drug test they KNOW a month in advance they are going to have to take. So, unless you are just trying to line the pockets of testing labs or attempting to price treatment for pain patients out of reach for all but those who have insurance that covers these tests THERE IS NO ACTUAL BENEFIT. And one other thing that REALLY concerns me is that if you look at those test results there is a column that reports a result of "too little". My concern about this is who would be informed of a "too little" result. One more thing is also driving the costs of treating pain. Since the passage of Ohio House Bill 93 fewer and fewer doctors are not willing to treat pain patients because they are scared to death of becoming the target of some state or federal agency or board and losing EVERYTHING they have spent their entire life building. These increased costs are the DIREST RESULT OF A reactionary, unimaginative Ohio House that acted before they considered the potential ramifications of a law that has and will continue to add MASSIVE COSTS to the treatment of chronic pain (and other conditions) in Ohio. I have come to call all these truly unnecessary costs that Pain Patients, Taxpayers and health insurance companies have to shoulder "THE PAIN TAX". Ohio could actually save HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, OVERNIGHT, by CHANGING ONE RULE: LET DOCTORS PUT REFILLS ON ALL PRESCRIPTIONS. This single rule change will save patients and the Taxpayers of Ohio at LEAST 75% of the costs associated with seeing a doctor just to get a new prescription. I should also mention that over a year ago I contacted EVERY SINGLE LEGISLATOR in The Ohio House and The Ohio Senate, by mail, making the same points I did above, and have yet to receive A SINGLE response. I just posted a similar article here http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/12980411-the-war-on-drugs-the-pain-tax-and-the-effects-on-non-combatants PLEASE feel free to take this comment, or the one at the link above, and call it your own and use it in ANY manner you feel would help Ohio Legislators or Legislators anywhere, see the MASSIVELY EXPENSIVE MISTAKE THEY MADE WHEN THEY PASSED HOUSE BILL 93, and the MASSIVE EXTRA UNFUNDED MANDATE THEY HAVE PLACE SQUARELY ON THE SHOULDERS OF THOSE THAT CAN LEAST AFFORD IT.

      Posted by Steve L on 9/15/2012 1:40 PM

    • If the state demands the test by law...the state needs to step up and pay the bills for the test. This bill was brain dead from Day1...legislation that impacts 100% of the citizens to address the problems of under 10% of the citizens...it was simply to assist lazy law enforcement.

      Posted by Laura L on 6/20/2013 4:23 PM

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