Back Pain Care Spending Nearly Doubled in a Decade

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , July 29, 2010

For back pain treatment in 2007, 45% of the total expenditures were paid by private insurance, but Medicare paid 23% and out-of-pocket payments amounted to 16.8%. For prescription medications to treat back pain, almost half, or 48.4% was paid by private insurance, followed by Medicare paying 23.6%.

The survey revealed that 27 million Americans, 12% of those age 17 or older, reported having back pain symptoms, which can be intense and short-lived or debilitating and persistent—only 19 million sought treatments.

Additionally, those seeking back pain care were more likely to be women, 10.9 million, compared with 8.2 million who were men.

The average expenditures for back problems were $1,589 per adult in 2007, of which $1,146 was for ambulatory care and $446 went to purchase prescription drugs, the survey showed.  Back pain sufferers paid about 17% out-of-pocket on back pain care expenses while private health insurance paid 45%, Medicare paid 23% and other sources, including workmen?s compensation, paid 15%.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

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