Total Economic Impact on the US Economy

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Lead Author(s): 

Edward H. Yelin, PhD
Miriam Cisternas, MA

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

The total economic impact of musculoskeletal diseases includes two types of costs: costs to treat individuals (direct medical costs) and costs paid indirectly by these individuals and society (lost wages).

Direct Costs + Earnings Losses

Aggregate all-cause costs among persons with a musculoskeletal disease, including direct healthcare costs plus decreased or lost wages (indirect cost), was estimated to be $980.1 billion per year in 2012-2014. (Reference Table 8.14 PDF CSV). Aggregate incremental costs (i.e., those attributed to musculoskeletal disease) for direct and indirect costs sum to a $321.6 billion per year Tables 8.6.1 and 8.12). In other words, direct and indirect costs attributable to musculoskeletal disease account for a third of all-cause direct and indirect costs for this population.


Share of GDP

Between the years 1996-1998 and 2012-2014, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)1, in constant 2014 dollars, has risen from $12.0 trillion to $17.0 trillion, an increase of 42%. Over the same two time frames, total direct and indirect costs of musculoskeletal conditions rose from $411.9 billion to $980.1 billion. This is an increase of 138%, or more than three times the rate of increase for the GDP.

As a share of GDP, using the same 2014 dollars base, total direct and indirect costs for musculoskeletal conditions increased by 68%, from 3.44% to 5.76%. Indirect costs rose twice as fast as direct costs in relative terms. However, indirect cost are a much smaller share of total cost than direct costs, constituting 0.25% of GDP in 1996-1998 and 0.57% in 2012-2014. Direct costs rose from a 3.18% share to a 5.19% share over the same time period. (Reference Table 8.14 PDF CSV)


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