The study revealed that more than 190 million Americans – or about 59 percent of the population – are affected by one or more chronic diseases, and 80 percent of the population will experience one or more chronic conditions during the next 15 years. The research, conducted by IHS Life Sciences, was commissioned by PFCD, an international coalition of hundreds of patient, provider, community business and labor group, and health policy experts.
The $42 trillion figure could be trimmed over the next 15 years through the adoption of healthy behaviors, development of better treatments and improved access to high-quality care for those living with chronic diseases, according to the study. Those factors could lead to 16 million saved lives, $6.3 trillion in savings and 169 million avoided cases. Behavioral changes that include improved treatment rates, increased physical activity, smoking reduction and obesity reduction could add up to $116 billion in savings each year through 2030.
Chronic diseases could cost America $2 trillion in medical costs and an extra $794 billion annually in lost employee productivity on average per year from 2016 to 2030, according to the study.
"It’s mind-boggling how much we can save by encouraging healthy behaviors, improving care delivery and investing in better treatments," Wayne Su, director, IHS Life Sciences, said in a statement. "To put the numbers into perspective, economic savings in the next 15 years are enough to send every American who is currently younger than 18 through a four-year public college, twice. Or, it could help pay for about half of the mortgage for every homeowner across the entire country."<
The chronic diseases included in the analysis are diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary conditions (asthma and chronic obstruction pulmonary disease), serious mental disorders (depression, bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia), cognitive disorders (dementia, Alzheimer's), osteoporosis and 17 types of cancers.
Health care costs are concentrated among those with multiple chronic diseases, the report noted. A person with five or more chronic conditions will cost the U.S. health care system $53,000 on average, which is more than five times that of individuals without chronic diseases. There were 30.8 million people living with three or more chronic diseases in 2015, and that number is projected to rise to 83.4 million in 2030.
"This research quantifies what we face on our current path and demonstrates how healthy behaviors and better treatments can reduce that toll," Ken Thorpe, chairman, PFCD, said in a statement. "Health care reforms aimed at promoting healthy behaviors, improving access to care, and accelerating treatment advances can and will prevent the development and progression of chronic disease and benefit all Americans."
The research findings are based on an analysis projecting the potential impact of improved lifestyle changes, access and care delivery improvements, and treatment advances on future direct medical expenditures, long term care, productivity losses, and labor force participation, among other factors. The analysis applied micro simulation techniques to data from published literature and nationally representative population databases.
For a fact sheet on the cost of chronic disease, click here.