Study: Lifetime Costs of Year's Worth of Injuries Top $400 Billion

The lifetime cost of injuries occurring in a single year in the United States is about $406 billion in medical expenses and productivity losses including lost wages, fringe benefits and ability to perform normal household responsibilities according to new findings released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly $80.2 billion is attributed to medical expenses, while $326 billion is estimated for lifetime productivity losses for the almost 50 million injuries that required medical treatment in 2000. These costs begin to accumulate when the injuries occur and are spread over each injured person's expected lifetime.

"The financial and economic impact of injuries in the United States is serious," CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said. "However, by expanding our science-based injury prevention programs, we can drastically reduce these costs and even, more importantly, help people live longer and healthier lives."

The new data and findings were released in the book "The Incidence and Economic Burden of Injuries in the United States" by scientists from the CDC as wells as scientific research contractors at RTI International and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. The book, which is a comprehensive analysis of the economic costs of injuries, makes use of 2000 data to update and expand a 1989 Report to Congress.

Actual Costs Likely Greater

Researchers note that actual costs of injuries are likely greater than the figure reported. Police services, caregiver time, costs for pain and suffering and other non-monetary costs are not included in this analysis.

Additional findings include:

  • Males account for approximately 70 percent ($283 billion) of the total costs of injuries, largely due to higher rates of fatal injury and the magnitude of their lost wages.
  • Persons aged 25 to 44 years represent 30 percent of the U.S. population and 40 percent ($164 billion) of the total costs of injuries.
  • Motor vehicles account for 22 percent ($89 billion) and fall injuries account for 20 percent ($81 billion) of the total costs of injuries.

"Many of the nearly 50 million injuries that occur each year in the United States are preventable," said Dr. Ileana Arias, director of CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention. "To accomplish that, though, we need greater recognition of the value of our prevention efforts. As this study shows, the benefits of preventing things like motor vehicle crashes, falls, residential fires, childhood abuses and other injuries are significant."

CDC supports effective interventions to save lives and reduce the cost of injuries, including increased use of child-restraint systems, smoke detector programs, multifaceted interventions to prevent falls among older adults and programs working with parents and others to prevent child maltreatment.

Additional information about this book, the burden of injury in the United States and CDC's injury prevention work can be found at CDC's Web site.

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