7 MOST EXPENSIVE
Chronic Diseases for Healthcare Payers
Based on the latest data from the CDC and presented in descending order, here are the top 7 most expensive chronic diseases for healthcare payers to treat:
Heart Disease & Stroke $363 Billion Annually
Diabetes $327 Billion
Arthritis $304 Billion
Alcohol $249 Billion
Cancer $240 Billion
Obesity $147 Billion
Alzheimer’s $305 Billion
1. HEART DISEASES AND STROKE
Heart disease and stroke costs in the US total $363 billion per year, split between $216 billion in direct medical costs and $147 billion in lost productivity.
The sheer volume of heart disease or stroke fatalities is an ever-growing concern for payers. According to the CDC, more than 877,500 Americans die from these diseases every year. Thus, these diseases are the leading cause of death for Americans today.
As one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in healthcare, diabetes care cost $327 billion in 2017. Seventy-two percent of diabetes treatment costs ($237 billion) were related to direct healthcare expenses.
34 million Americans live with diabetes in the US, and another 88 million live with prediabetes. As the seventh-leading cause of death in the US, diabetes can lead to various health complications such as blindness, kidney disease, amputations, and heart disease. Payers have to be confident and ready to cover diabetic patients by supporting public education and provider initiatives to treat diabetics.
In the US, the total cost of arthritis was an estimated $304 billion, split between $140 billion in direct medical expenses and $164 billion in related productivity and care management losses. Arthritis affects 25 percent of adults in the US, or 59 million people, and is expected to rise to 78 million cases by 2040. Arthritis also occurs with other chronic conditions as many patients are unsure how to manage their symptoms.
4. ALCOHOL-RELATED HEALTH ISSUES
In 2010, excessive alcohol use cost the US economy $249 billion, or roughly $2.05 per drink. Alcohol-related deaths totaled 95,000 people per year and shortened the lives of working adults by an average of 30 years.
Like smoking, alcohol-related health concerns stem from socialized behaviors and can be improved by provider interventions supported by payers. Excessive alcohol use is known to cause liver cancer, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions.
According to the latest estimates from the CDC and the National Cancer Institute, cancer care is estimated to cost $240 billion by 2030 due to healthcare inflation over previous decades.
Even though cancer rates are decreasing, the CDC predicts that cancer will continue to be one of the leading causes of death in the US. 1.7 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year, and another 600,000 die from the disease.
Promoting early screenings, building awareness about preventative techniques, and developing strategic partnerships remain the most effective measures for cancer prevention.
The United States spends $147 billion on healthcare related to obesity and roughly $117 billion on costs associated with inadequate physical activity. In 2006, the healthcare costs of obese patients were $1,429 higher than patients at an average weight. Obesity is implicated in developing or worsening many other chronic conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. Public health initiatives such as education, promoting access to healthier foods, and delivering preventive care to pediatric patients can help to keep patients at a healthy weight.
7. ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE
In 2019, about 16 million Americans provided 17 million hours of unpaid care to friends and family with Alzheimer's and related dementia. Based on CDC estimates, that amount of unpaid care is valued at $244 billion.
In addition, direct healthcare expenses for providing Alzheimer’s patients with long-term and hospice care will cost $305 billion in 2020 alone. The disease affects 5.7 million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death.
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