The Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a 364 page report in 2011 called ‘Relieving Pain in America’ which revealed some interesting (make that incredible) facts. Factoring in the actuals costs, along with lost productivity, it is estimated that the yearly cost in 2010 dollars was somewhere between $560-630 billion. $600 billion works out to about $1900 per American per year.
Australians spend $1200 each on pain relief. That’s about 42% less. Are Aussies tougher or is their health system leaner and meaner, mate?
This “conservative” estimate of total costs is more than the combined dollars spent on heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Where are the US dollars going?
Estimates are that $189 billion goes on arthritis, $14 billion on headache pain and $30 billion on low back pain. The disability costs of arthritis and low back pain are estimated at $300 billion. Much of this money is spent on pharmaceuticals and medical procedures. How is that working?
These human and economic costs constitute a crisis and should herald a transformation in how we think and act regarding pain. My future blog posts will expand on this.