Ranking the Costs of Illnesses

Published Online: Thursday, May 1, 2003

According to a report from the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released in late March 2003, hypertension is the sixth most expensive medical condition, affecting 27 million people and costing $18 billion a year. Heart disease is the most expensive medical condition. In 1997, the year of the study, heart disease affected more than 17 million people at a cost of $58 billion. Cancer came in second, at $46 billion. Hypertension also accounted for the most out-of-pocket expenses?patients pay about 30% of the costs of the disease.

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