Sour tidings

Pickleball is expected to cost more than $350 million in medical injuries in the US this year

Senior players are contributing to a rise in outpatient surgeries, according to UBS analysts

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Two seniors play pickleball on a court.
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

Pickleball, the fastest-growing sport in the US, could also be responsible for a multimillion-dollar rise in healthcare spending this year, according to UBS analysts.

A UBS Group note to clients, published Monday (June 26), said a rise in spending on surgeries such as joint replacements in the US may link back to the pickleball court, as Bloomberg reported.


The analysts estimated that in 2023 anywhere from $250 million to $500 million in medical spending could be due to pickleball injuries.

UBS’s analysis of senior pickleball injuries, by the digits

22.3 million: UBS’s projection for the number of pickleball players in the US in 2023, marking a 150% increase from 2022, as reported by Bloomberg


1/3: Estimated number of pickleball players that are seniors and play the sport at least eight times a year, defined as “core players” by UBS

90.9%: Number of pickleball injury patients in the US who were age 50 and up, according to one study cited by UBS

$100,000+: Estimated income of over half of pickleball players in the US, who tend to be a higher income set

More seniors are signing up for elective surgeries in the US

UBS serves up quite the argument, though not all may find it convincing. Rising healthcare spending could just be a matter of pent-up demand following covid. That was the logic provided by UnitedHealth CFO John Rex at a Goldman Sachs investor conference earlier in June, as reported in the Financial Times.


“Leading indicators in two weeks of June [are showing] continued strong outpatient care activity,” Rex said, as quoted by the FT. He continued: “Think things [like] hips, knees, and senior business. Hips, knees, cardio, very localized in Medicare businesses [are] where we’re particularly seeing the trend.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has marked 2023 as the year for “revenge surgeries.” More seniors are lining up for procedures, now that the peak of the pandemic has passed—a move has also been projected to drive up medical costs.


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