Gender disparity in cost of osteoarthritis care

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A new study has found that the cost associated with caring for osteoarthritis patients tops $185.5 billion per year and is dramatically higher for women than for men. 

Researchers at New York's Stony Brook University analyzed data for more than 150,000 men and women aged 18 and older who had health insurance. More women than men are affected by OA, and the cost of care reflected that gender disparity, the researchers found. Insurance companies spend an average of $4,833 per female patient, compared to $4,036 for male patients. There is an even greater disparity with out-of-pocket spending. Total spending to treat women is roughly $118 billion. Nearly half that amount, $67.5 billion, is spent on men. Osteoarthritis affects roughly 27 million typically older Americans

The healthcare costs associated with osteoarthritis in the study include physician services, drugs, tests and other treatments. Increased awareness and better screening for the disease could help delay the condition's onset and reduce the costs associated with care, researchers say. The report was published Nov 30 in the online edition of Arthritis & Rheumatism.