US health care spending on respiratory diseases, 1996-2016

Published August 31, 2022, in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (opens in a new window)


Respiratory conditions account for a large proportion of health care spending in the United States (US). A full characterization of spending across multiple conditions and over time has not been performed.


To estimate US health care spending for 11 respiratory conditions from 1996-2016, providing detailed trends and an evaluation of factors associated with spending growth.


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 that is associated with changes in each of five factors (population growth, population aging, disease prevalence, service utilization, and service price and intensity).

Measurements and Main Results

Total spending across all respiratory conditions in 2016 was $170.8 billion (95% 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 (COPD), 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.


US spending on respiratory conditions is high, particularly for chronic conditions like asthma and COPD. Our findings suggest that service price and intensity, particularly for pharmaceuticals, should be a key focus of attention for policy makers seeking to reduce health care spending growth.

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Duan KI, Birger M, Au DH, et al. US health care spending on respiratory diseases, 1996-2016. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 31 August 2022. doi:10.1164/rccm.202202-0294OC.