Health and Economic Costs of Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases have significant health and economic costs in the United States. Preventing chronic diseases, or managing symptoms when prevention is not possible, can reduce these costs.

Diseases

Heart Disease and Stroke

nurse using blood pressure cuff on patient

Nothing kills more Americans than heart disease and stroke. More than 868,000 Americans die of heart disease or stroke every year—that’s one-third of all deaths. These diseases take an economic toll, as well, costing our health care system $214 billion per year and causing $138 billion in lost productivity on the job.3

Cancer

woman sitting with hands on shoulders of female patient

Each year in the United States, more than 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer, and almost 600,000 die from it, making it the second leading cause of death. The cost of cancer care continues to rise and is expected to reach almost $174 billion by 2020.”4

Diabetes

fruits, veggies, measuring tape, sugar level reading

More than 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, and another 88 million adults in the United States have a condition called prediabetes, which puts them at risk for type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can cause serious complications, including heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness. In 2017, the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes was $327 billion in medical costs and lost productivity.5

Obesity

scale and measuring tape

Obesity affects 19% of children and 42% of adults, putting people at risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Over a quarter of all Americans 17 to 24 years are too heavy to join the military. Obesity costs the US health care system $147 billion a year.6

Arthritis

portrait of senior couple jogging on the beach

Arthritis affects 54.4 million adults in the United States, which is about 1 in 4 adults. It is a leading cause of work disability in the United States, one of the most common chronic conditions, and a common cause of chronic pain. The total cost attributable to arthritis and related conditions was about $304 billion in 2013. Of this amount, nearly $140 billion was for medical costs and $164 billion was for indirect costs associated with lost earnings.7

Alzheimer’s Disease

Shaking elderly hands

Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia, is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that affects about 5.7 million Americans. It is the sixth leading cause of death among all adults and the fifth leading cause for those aged 65 or older. In 2010 , the costs of treating Alzheimer’s disease were estimated to fall between $159 billion and $215 billion.8 By 2040, these costs are projected to jump to between $379 billion and $500 billion annually.

Epilepsy

Medical expert reviewing images of head

In the United States, about 3 million adults and 470,000 children and teens younger than 18 have active epilepsy—meaning that they have been diagnosed by a doctor, had a recent seizure, or both. Adults with epilepsy report worse mental health, more cognitive impairment, and barriers in social participation compared to adults without epilepsy. In 2016, health care spending for epilepsy was $8.6 billion in direct costs.9

Published by Keith Abell, RPh cWHC

"Helping folks build a life they don't need a vacation from."

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