In 2008, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), about 100 million
adults in the United States were affected by chronic pain, including joint pain or
arthritis. Pain is costly to the nation because it requires medical treatment and
complicates treatment for other ailments. Also, pain lowers worker productivity. Using
the 2008 MEPS, we estimated 1) the portion of total U.S. health care costs attributable
to pain; and 2) the annual costs of pain associated with lower worker productivity.
We found that the total costs ranged from $560 to $635 billion in 2010 dollars. The
additional health care costs due to pain ranged from $261 to $300 billion. This represents
an increase in annual per person health care costs ranging from $261 to $300 compared
to a base of about $4,250 for persons without pain. The value of lost productivity
due to pain ranged from $299 to $335 billion. We found that the annual cost of pain
was greater than the annual costs of heart disease ($309 billion), cancer ($243 billion),
and diabetes ($188 billion). Our estimates are conservative because they do not include
costs associated with pain for nursing home residents, children, military personnel,
and persons who are incarcerated.
This study estimates that the national cost of pain ranges from $560 to $635 billion,
larger than the cost of the nation's priority health conditions. Because of its economic
toll on society, the nation should invest in research, education, and training to
advocate the successful treatment, management, and prevention of pain.
Copyright © 2012 American Pain Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.