Table: ...With Big Payoffs and Costs for the Consumer

HEART DISEASE

Heart-attack deaths have fallen by 20% over the past two decades, largely thanks to new treatments such as angioplasty. But because these therapies are more accessible, the total cost of all heart-attack treatment has increased by 60%.

LOW-BIRTHWEIGHT BABIES

In the 1950s, most of these infants died. Because there was no treatment, the cost of care was low. Today, two-thirds of these babies survive, often without long-term complications. The cost of treatment: $40,000 per baby.

DEPRESSION

Until the mid-1980s, most depression was treated with therapy or drugs that had dangerous or unpleasant side-effects. The increasing use of more effective drugs changed the environment. From 1991-96 alone, the number of patients diagnosed and treated for depression increased fourfold. While the cost per treatment did not change, the overall expense exploded to $10 billion.

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