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Health Aff (Millwood). 2003 Mar-Apr;22(2):129-38.

Spending and service use among people with the fifteen most costly medical conditions, 1997.

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  • 1Division of Social and Economic Research, Center for Cost and Financing Studies, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, Maryland, USA.


This study addresses the Institute of Medicine's recommendation that AHRQ use MEPS data to identify a set of priority conditions to inform efforts at improving quality of care. Using MEPS data we identify the fifteen most expensive conditions in the U.S. in 1997: chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and acute conditions such as trauma, pneumonia, and infectious disease. Comorbidities were also associated with increased expenses. Type-of-service and source-of-payment distributions varied considerably across this set of conditions. Our findings highlight some of the challenges likely to be encountered in efforts to reform the current system.

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