A new study, released as a Web First by Health Affairs, estimated health spending by medical condition for the entire US population and found that in 2013, $201 billion were spent on mental disorders — more than on any other medical condition. These estimates, developed under contract to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, include health spending by the military and institutionalized populations and are benchmarked to the National Health Expendture Accounts.



The study, by Charles Roehrigwhich covers the period 1996–2013, updates a 2009 Health Affairs study that used the same methodology and covered the period 1996–2005. The 2016 study highlights the low rate of increase in spending on heart conditions and cerebrovascular disease during this period. According to the study, the slow spending growth is explained by reductions in smoking and better control of risk factors such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia, credited with declining death rates for these conditions.

Roehrig noted that “reductions in deaths from heart conditions and cerebrovascular disease are likely to drive spending on mental disorders even higher, as more people survive to older ages — when mental disorders, such as dementia, become more prevalent.”

Roehrig is affiliated with the Altarum Institute, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

This study, part of Health Affairs’ DataWatch series, was funded by the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis; it will also appear in the journal’s June issue.