Impact not inevitable with improved treatment and prevention of chronic disease
Durham, N.H., Nov 8, 2007- In a groundbreaking study released by the Milken Institute, the annual economic impact on New Hampshire’s economy of the most common chronic diseases is calculated to be $5.4 billion. In the United States as a whole, the cost is a staggering $1 trillion, which could balloon to nearly $6 trillion by the middle of the century. Yet the news is not entirely grim because much of this cost is avoidable.
“An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease” brings to light for the first time what is often overlooked in the discussion of the impact of chronic disease— the economic loss associated with preventable illness and the cost to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and American businesses in lost growth.
The results of the study were released on Thursday, in Durham, at a joint forum hosted by the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute and the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.
“The human toll of chronic disease in New Hampshire and the United States as a whole is obvious,” said Cynthia “Mil” Duncan, Director of the Carsey Institute. “The data presented by the Milken Institute today for the first time highlights the true cost burden of our failure to address chronic disease. We must reduce the rate of chronic disease to avoid potentially devastating economic damage to our state and nation.”
According to the study, seven chronic diseases—cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary conditions and mental illness—have a total impact on New Hampshire’s economy of nearly $5.4 billion annually. Of this amount, $4.4 billion represents the cost of lost productivity. The national numbers are $1.3 trillion and $1.1 trillion, respectively.
“By investing in good health, we can add billions of dollars in economic growth in the coming decades,” said Ross DeVol, Director of Health Economics and Regional Economics at the Milken Institute and principal author of the report. “The good news is that with moderate improvements in prevention and early intervention such as reducing the rate of obesity, the savings to the economy would be enormous.”
The study is the first of its kind to estimate the avoidable costs if a serious effort were made to improve Americans’ health. Assuming modest improvements in preventing and treating disease, Milken Institute researchers determined that by 2023 the nation could avoid 40 million cases of chronic disease and reduce the economic impact of chronic disease by 27 percent, or $1.1 trillion annually. They report that the most important factor is obesity, which if rates declined could lead to $60 billion less in treatment costs and $254 billion in increased productivity.
Looking even further ahead, the report measures the possible cost to future generations if escalating disease leads to lower investments in education and training. In a snowball effect, the report warns, this loss of human capital and skill building could reduce the nation’s economic output by as much as $5.7 trillion in real GDP by the year 2050.
In addition to providing national numbers, the report estimates current and future costs for each of the 50 states. According to the study, by making reasonable improvements in preventing and managing chronic disease, New Hampshire can avoid 183,000 cases of chronic conditions in 2023 and reduce future economic costs of disease in New Hampshire sharply, by 27 percent ($5.2 billion). $4.3 billion of this would come from gains in productivity and almost $1 billion would come from reduced treatment spending.
To reduce the human and economic cost of disease, the Milken Institute calls for:
· More incentives to promote prevention and early intervention, and;
- A renewed national commitment to achieve a “healthy body weight.”
The report was created by researchers from the Milken Institute and was supported with a grant from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), both of whom are partners in the PFCD.
“This study is a call to action. It’s time for Americans to call for a change in how we effectively fight chronic disease. Chronic disease is a crucial driver of health care costs, and its rates are rising. We need to reverse this trend and we need to do it now. It’s common sense,” says PhRMA president and CEO Billy Tauzin.
The full report is available at www.milkeninstitute.org and www.fightchronicdisease.org. An interactive Web site with complete national- and state-level data for each of the chronic diseases is available at www.chronicdiseaseimpact.com.
About the Milken Institute : The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, independent economic think tank whose mission is to improve the lives and economic conditions of diverse populations around the world by helping business and public policy leaders identify and implement innovative ideas for creating broad-based prosperity. It is based in Santa Monica, CA. (www.milkeninstitute.org)
About The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease: The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease is a national coalition of patients, providers, community organizations, business and labor groups, and health policy experts committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death, disability, and rising health care costs in the U.S.: chronic disease.