Chronic diseases are long-lasting medical conditions that persist for years and require ongoing medical attention. These illnesses not only create a personal cost to individuals but also impose a significant economic burden on society as a whole.
The costs of chronic diseases affect everyone, including patients, their families, and our entire communities.
There are direct costs, which refer to expenses associated with medical care, such as hospitalization, doctor visits, medications, and medical equipment. There are also indirect costs, which include lost productivity, decreased quality of life, and premature death.
In the United States, the total national health expenditures now exceed $4.3 trillion each year, which equates to around $13,000 per person.
Nearly 40 million Americans are currently living with diabetes, with an additional 96 million adults living with prediabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, the total cost of diabetes in the United States was estimated at $327 billion in 2017.
Being obese or overweight puts you at a high risk for other chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
The economic burden of obesity is substantial, with an estimated annual cost to the healthcare system of $173 billion from obesity alone.
Cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and strokes) is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for around one-third of all deaths. The direct costs to our healthcare system are estimated to be approximately $216 billion per year, plus another $147 billion in lost productivity and other indirect costs.
Nearly 2 million people each year are diagnosed with cancer in the United States. In 2020, cancer care costs were estimated to be around $208 billion. These costs are expected to rise beyond $240 billion by 2030.
Mental Health Disorders
Mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are conditions that affect a person’s mood, thinking, and behavior. In 2020, $280 billion were spent in the United States on mental health care services.
And on top of this high cost, it is estimated that at least 50% of people living with depression are undiagnosed and untreated.
Arthritis affects 1 in 4 adults (nearly 60 million people in the US). Arthritis is also the leading cause of work disability in the US. The total cost of arthritis in the United States was estimated at $303.5 billion in 2013, including $140.8 billion in direct medical costs and $162.7 billion in indirect costs such as lost productivity.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are conditions that affect a person’s memory and cognitive abilities. The total cost of these conditions in the United States was estimated at $305 billion in 2020. Over the next few decades, these costs are projected to reach over $1.1 trillion by 2050.
Dental and Oral Care
Cavities and tooth decay are one of the most common chronic conditions in the US.
In addition to the direct costs of maintaining and treating oral and dental conditions, unplanned (emergency) care contributes to over $50 billion in lost productivity, and an average of 34 million school hours missed each year.