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Calculating cost estimates
• The cost of fall-related injuries is usually expressed in terms of direct costs.
• Direct costs include out-of-pocket expenses and charges paid by insurance companies for the treatment of fall-related injuries. These include costs and fees associated with hospital and nursing home care, physician and other professional services, rehabilitation, community-based services, the use of medical equipment, prescription drugs, local rehabilitation, home modifications, and insurance administration.
• Direct costs do not account for the long-term consequences of these injuries, such as disability, decreased productivity, or decreased quality of life.
The costs of fall-related injuries
• In 1994, the average direct cost for a fall injury was $1,400 for a person over the age of 65.
• The total direct cost of all fall injuries for people age 65 and older in 1994 was $20.2 billion.
• By 2020, the cost of fall injuries is expected to reach $32.4 billion.
• The most common fall-related injuries are osteoporotic fractures. These are fractures of the hip, spine, or forearm.
• In the United States in 1986, the direct medical costs for osteoporotic fractures were $5.15 billion. By 1989, these costs exceeded $6 billion.
• Over the next 10 years, total direct medical costs for osteoporotic fractures among postmenopausal women will be more than $45.2 billion.
• In the United States, hospitalization accounts for 44% of direct health care costs for hip fracture patients.
• In 1991, Medicare costs for this injury were estimated to be $2.9 billion.
• Hospital admissions for hip fractures among people over age 65 have steadily increased, from 230,000 admissions in 1988 to 340,000 admissions in 1996. The number of hip fractures is expected to exceed 500,000 annually by the year 2040.
• A recent study found that the cost of a hip fracture, including direct medical care, formal nonmedical care, and informal care provided by family and friends was between $16,300 and $18,700 during the first year following the injury.
• Assuming 5% inflation and the growing number of hip fractures, the total annual cost of these injuries may reach $240 billion by the year 2040.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta.