Antibiotic-Resistant Infection Treatment Costs Have Doubled Since 2002, Now Exceeding $2 Billion Annually

Health Aff (Millwood). 2018 Apr;37(4):662-669. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2017.1153. Epub 2018 Mar 21.


Antibiotic-resistant infections are a global health care concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 23,000 Americans with these infections die each year. Rising infection rates add to the costs of health care and compromise the quality of medical and surgical procedures provided. Little is known about the national health care costs attributable to treating the infections. Using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, we estimated the incremental health care costs of treating a resistant infection as well as the total national costs of treating such infections. To our knowledge, this is the first national estimate of the costs for treating the infections. We found that antibiotic resistance added $1,383 to the cost of treating a patient with a bacterial infection. Using our estimate of the number of such infections in 2014, this amounts to a national cost of $2.2 billion annually. The need for innovative new infection prevention programs, antibiotics, and vaccines to prevent and treat antibiotic-resistant infections is an international priority.

Keywords: Cost of Health Care; Health Spending.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Young Adult