Where’s the Spending?

Pete Celano, 8 January 2017



In calendar 2016, America  spent $3.2 trillion on healthcare.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association breaks it all down to 155 diseases.

The most expensive diseases through 2013 are diabetes ($101 billion), the most common form of heart disease ($88 billion) and — perhaps this will surprise you — back and neck pain ($88 billion).

Also, medical spending increases with age — with the exception of newborns. Some 38% of personal health spending in 2013 was for people over age 65. Consider — annual spending for girls 1-4 years old averaged $2,000 per person; older women 70-74 years old averaged $16,000.


Just twenty (20) conditions make up more than half of all spending on healthcare in the United States.

The most expensive condition, diabetes, has grown 36x faster than the cost of ischemic heart disease, which is the number-one cause of death over the past 18 years.

Diabetes and heart disease typically affect individuals 65 and older, but lower back and neck pain affects primarily adults of working age.

These three top spending categories above, along with hypertension and injuries from falls, comprise 18% of all personal health spending a total of $437 billion in 2013.

TAKEAWAY:  Wearables to date have been mostly about tracking steps especially for the active (weekend warriors).  Given the amount of spending on lower back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, musculoskeletal disorders, and neurologic disorders associated with pain and muscular dystrophy — plus falls, and how much absenteeism this must represent for Employers — this could be a very fertile next market opportunity in Wearables.  And I’d expect these sensors increasingly to be Adhesive in nature ….



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