NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 8, 2006

As baby boomers get older and fatter, a growing number are becoming crippled by arthritic knees. Many of these patients, who can barely walk, are undergoing surgery to get artificial knees made of high-performance metal and plastic.

In 2003, more than 400,000 patients in the United States needed knee replacements, more than double the number recorded in 1993, according to a recent study presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.


  • As baby boomers age, more are developing arthritis. In 2003, the cost of a knee replacement in the United States averaged $31,000.
  • The total cost of all replacement that year was $11.4 billion -- double that of just four years earlier, according to AAOS.
  • The AAOS study predicts that the number of first-time knee replacements will increase 673 percent, to 3.5 million a year, between 2005 and 2030.

Obesity, arthritis and advancing age also are ravaging hips.

  • There were 217,000 hips replacements in 2003, and the number could increase to 572,000 by 2030.
  • AAOS predicts that the number of first-time hip replacements will increase by 174 percent between 2005 and 2030, to 572,000 a year.
  • Findings also indicate that six of every 1,000 patients will need a new hip. Currently, Medicare pays for two-thirds of all joint replacements.

Source: Jim Ritter, "Bum knees take growing toll on graying boomers," Chicago Sun-Times, June 4, 2006; and Marnell Jameson, "The new hip trend; Fitness-crazy boomers are paying a price -- replacement joints at a younger age," Los Angeles Times, June 5, 2006.

For Sun-Times text:


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