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Medical Care Expenditures for Hypertension, Its Complications, and Its Comorbidities

Hodgson, Thomas A. PhD* and; Cai, Liming PhD

Original Articles

Objectives. Medical expenditures attributed to hypertension were estimated, including expenditures for cardiovascular complications, other conditions for which hypertensives are at higher risk, and comorbidities (secondary diagnoses) that raise the cost of medical care. This article presents total, per capita, and per condition US expenditures in 1998 according to sex, age, and type of health service.

Methods. A variety of national data sources were used to disaggregate national health expenditures in 1998 by diagnosis. Expenditures for cardiovascular complications and other conditions for which hypertensives had higher rates of utilization were determined by analysis of attributable risks. Additional expenditures generated by extra hospital inpatient days and higher charges for nursing home and home health care for comorbidities were estimated by regression analyses.

Results. In 1998, $108.8 billion in health care spending was attributed to hypertension, 12.6% of total national spending that could be allocated to diagnoses, including $22.8 billion for hypertension, $29.7 billion for cardiovascular complications, and $56.4 billion for other diagnoses. Per capita expenditures increased with age from $249 for those younger than 65 years to $3,007 for those 85 years and older. The average amount spent per hypertensive condition was $3,787. Expenditures were generally higher for females.

Conclusions. The economic burden of hypertension is large, but health services directly related to hypertension account for only a fraction of attributed expenditures. Comprehensive accounting of expenditures more accurately assesses the cost of hypertension and potential savings from prevention and treatment. Alteration of lifestyles and medical intervention provide opportunities to reduce national health expenditures.

*From the Office of Analysis, Epidemiology, and Health Promotion, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.

†From the NOVA Research Company, Bethesda, Maryland.

Support was provided by an Interagency Agreement between the Office of Demography of Aging, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Correspondence to Thomas A. Hodgson, PhD, National Center for Health Statistics, 6525 Belcrest Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782. E-mail:

Received August 21, 2000; initial review completed November 9, 2000; accepted January 30, 2001.

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.