Research out in the June 2018 edition of Health Affairs shows that increases in health care spending on key diseases can be attributed to several factors: the use of new and often cost-effective technologies, a shift toward preventive services, and an aging and more obese population.

According to the study, 30 conditions accounted for 42 percent of the real growth rate in per capita spending from 2000-14. Not surprisingly, some of the spending is related to better detection and longer-term survival rates thanks to improvements in technology and treatment options, especially for cancer, HIV and hepatitis C. Certain conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety, were previously under-diagnosed and under-treated. And preventive treatments, such as immunizations and annual medical check-ups, saw in uptick in use.

An aging population also impacts how much we are spending on health care. With longer life spans and technologies to improve that quality of life, we’re seeing an increase in conditions that are related to aging, such as osteoarthritis, retinal detachments and dementia, among other conditions. Obesity remains a cause for concern, however, as the obesity rate is continuing to increase and is a major risk factor for diabetes, kidney disease and other conditions.

The study notes that there are significant inefficiencies in the health care system, such as overtreatment, failure to coordinate care, and administrative complexity. Addressing these inefficiencies could help to reduce health care spending or to focus spending where there is greater need or value for patients.