Incidence, deaths, and lifetime costs of injury among American Indians and Alaska Natives
In the United States, the mortality burden of injury is higher among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) than any other racial/ethnic group, and injury contributes to considerable medical costs, years of potential life lost (YPLL), and productivity loss among AI/AN.
This study assessed the economic burden of injuries for AI/AN who are eligible for services through Indian Health Service, analyzing direct medical costs of injury for Indian Health Service’s users and years of potential life lost (YPLL) and the value of productivity losses from injury deaths for AI/AN in the Indian Health Service population.
Injury-related lifetime medical costs were estimated for Indian Health Service users with medically treated injuries using data from the 2011–2015 National Data Warehouse. Productivity costs and YPLL were estimated using data on injury-related deaths among AI/AN in Indian Health Service’s 2008–2010 service population. Costs were reported in 2017 U.S. dollars.
The total estimated costs of injuries per year, including injuries among Indian Health Service users and productivity losses from injury-related deaths, were estimated at $4.5 billion. Lifetime medical costs to treat annual injuries among Indian Health Service users were estimated at $549 million, with the largest share ($131 million) going toward falls, the most frequent injury cause. Total estimated YPLL from AI/AN injury deaths in Indian Health Service’s service population were 106,400. YPLL from injury deaths for men (74,000) were 2.2 times YPLL for women (33,000). Productivity losses from all injury-related deaths were $3.9 billion per year. The highest combined lifetime medical and mortality costs were for motor vehicle/traffic injuries, with an estimated cost of $1.6 billion per year.
Findings suggest that targeted injury prevention efforts by Indian Health Service likely contributed to lower rates of injury among AI/AN, particularly for motor vehicle/traffic injuries. However, because of remaining disparities in injury-related outcomes between AI/AN and all races in the United States, Indian Health Service should continue to monitor changes in injury incidence and costs over time, evaluate the impacts of previous injury prevention investments on current incidence and costs, and identify additional injury prevention investment needs.