Health Care Spending on Respiratory Diseases in the United States, 1996-2016

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2023 Jan 15;207(2):183-192. doi: 10.1164/rccm.202202-0294OC.


Rationale: Respiratory conditions account for a large proportion of health care spending in the United States. A full characterization of spending across multiple conditions and over time has not been performed. Objectives: To estimate health care spending in the United States for 11 respiratory conditions from 1996 to 2016, providing detailed trends and an evaluation of factors associated with spending growth. Methods: We extracted data from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation's Disease Expenditure Project Database, producing annual estimates in spending for 38 age and sex groups, 7 types of care, and 3 payer types. We performed a decomposition analysis to estimate the change in spending associated with changes in each of five factors (population growth, population aging, disease prevalence, service usage, and service price and intensity). Measurements and Main Results: Total spending across all respiratory conditions in 2016 was $170.8 billion (95% confidence interval [CI], $164.2-179.2 billion), increasing by $71.7 billion (95% CI, $63.2-80.8 billion) from 1996. The respiratory conditions with the highest spending in 2016 were asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, contributing $35.5 billion (95% CI, $32.4-38.2 billion) and $34.3 billion (95% CI, $31.5-37.3 billion), respectively. Increasing service price and intensity were associated with 81.4% (95% CI, 70.3-93.0%) growth from 1996 to 2016. Conclusions: U.S. spending on respiratory conditions is high, particularly for chronic conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Our findings suggest that service price and intensity, particularly for pharmaceuticals, should be a key focus of attention for policymakers seeking to reduce health care spending growth.

Keywords: health economics; health expenditures; health policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Asthma* / epidemiology
  • Asthma* / therapy
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Health Expenditures
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive*
  • Respiration Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Respiration Disorders* / therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases* / therapy
  • United States / epidemiology