Friday, May 16, 2008

Chronic Disease and Health Reform

With more than a hundred organizations from different industries, disciplines, and sectors committed and involved, The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease in a year’s time, has effectively positioned itself to inform the nation’s health reform agenda and focus it on the role of chronic disease prevention. FasterCures is proud to be part of this partnership.

An April 2008 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that healthcare costs rank among Americans’ top personal economic problems, and their struggles to deal with those costs have affected both their financial well-being and their family’s healthcare.

Healthcare issues top domestic policy concerns. Presidential candidates trumpet their respective healthcare reform proposals. And yet, while Americans are interested in hearing about how to make healthcare more affordable, improve delivery of care, and ensure access to the best treatments, many still do not understand the breadth or depth of the problems plaguing our healthcare system.

The Partnership makes the case that meaningful healthcare reform should center on addressing the problem of chronic disease, specifically on preventive interventions that focus on lifestyle choices. Its 2008 Almanac of Chronic Disease released today paints a grim picture of just how unhealthy we are as a nation. But, grim as it may be, the Almanac’s staggering statistics will help increase overall understanding of the burden of chronic disease and its effect on the way we live, the way we work, and the way we do business. Chronic diseases:

  • Affect more than 130 million Americans directly;
  • Account for 7 in 10 deaths;
  • Account for more than 75 cents of every dollar spent on healthcare, and nearly two-thirds of the growth in healthcare spending over the past 20 years; and,
  • Cost the U.S. economy $1 trillion a year in lost productivity.
What further exacerbates this problem is the reality that more than half of Americans have one or more chronic diseases. As our medical research enterprise continues its important work in studying these chronic diseases, we need to ensure efforts are in place to accelerate the research process to move it from the studying these diseases to curing these diseases.
The human and economic toll of chronic disease on patients' families and society is enormous. A Milken Institute report, An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease -- Charting a New Course to Save Lives and Increase Productivity and Economic Growth, released in October 2007 and featured in the Almanac, quantified the economic and business costs of chronic disease: the potential impact on employers, the government and the nation's economy. The report estimated that:
  • The total impact of these diseases on the economy is $1.3 trillion annually.
  • Of this amount, lost productivity totals $1.1 trillion per year, while another $277 billion is spent annually on treatment.
  • On our current path, in 2023 we project a 42 percent increase in cases of the seven chronic diseases.
Tackling the enormous burden of chronic disease is a daunting task. The silver lining is that now that we are armed with data, supported by collaborative efforts of all partner organizations, and have the attention of our nation’s policy and decision-makers, we have a chance to chart the course for meaningful health reform.
FasterCures looks forward to continuing to be a part of this important effort.

--Cecilia O. Arradaza, FasterCures, Communications Director

1 comment:

Roxanne said...

Great post. Health care should be like this, they must have aid for chronic disease which needs continuous medications.
Thanks a lot for sharing this article.