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Chronic Illness

Globally, our nation faces the second highest risk of mortality from noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease. More than half of Americans suffer from one or more chronic diseases just like these. While all three of these diseases cause more deaths than any other, and occupy the largest share of spending in health care, the opportunity for improvement is greatest for respiratory patients.

The Human Costs
The burden on these patients is tremendous. Aside from a reduced life expectancy, patients living with one or more of these diseases face dramatically reduced mobility, limited social interaction and a significantly reduced capacity to work. The human cost of chronic diseases cannot be ignored. Chronic diseases cause 7 out of every 10 deaths. They are the leading causes of disability and death in the U.S. Roughly 25% of people living with a chronic disease have some type of activity limitation, requiring assistance with many basic tasks, such as dressing, bathing and to a large degree, working. The disabling and long-term symptoms that often come with chronic diseases severely and negatively impact overall quality of life.

Economic Costs
When examined as a nation-wide problem, these diseases cost the economy more than $1 trillion annually, and are expected to grow to more than $5 trillion by 2023. On average, the U.S. spends twice as much on health care per capita, and 50% more as a share of GDP, as other industrialized nations do. More than 3/4 of the bill goes to treating heart disease, pulmonary conditions and numerous other chronic diseases. Projected annual health care expenditures for each is as follows:

Heart Disease: $818 billion by 2030 (Source: American Heart Association)

Pulmonary Conditions: $830 billion by 2021 (Source: Milken Institute)

Despite our spending to date, incidence rates continue to climb, patients continue to suffer and costs become even more uncontrollable. The human and economic burden of chronic disease, including both direct treatment expenditures and indirect productivity loss, accounts for more than 75% of all health care dollars spent.