Managed Care

The increasing burden of chronic disease

Talk about a sobering prediction. Indirect costs (e.g., lost days of productivity, presenteeism) attributed to cancer, mental disorders, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, pulmonary conditions, and stroke will total $3.4 trillion annually in 2023, more than four times the cost of treatment (direct costs). Adding direct costs will bring the total annual economic burden associated with these diseases to $4.2 trillion, according to “An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease,” issued by the Milken Institute, which describes itself as publicly supported and nonpartisan. The report examines the cost of treatment and lost economic output starting in 2003.

The report says that more than half of Americans suffer from one or more chronic diseases. The most common chronic conditions are costing the economy more than $1 trillion annually right now.

Yet much of this cost is avoidable and preventable — hence the significance of this wellness-theme issue of MANAGED CARE. “We’re predicting an annual 11 percent growth rate from 2003 to 2023. If we look at straight growth rate, that comes out to about 223 percent,” says Armen Bedroussian, a research economist at the Milken Institute.

Treatment costs and productivity losses, 2003–2023 (billions)

Source: Milken Institute

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