The total drain on the U.S. GDP for eleven of the most prominent chronic health conditions is over $1 trillion annually.

The other side of that coin is that by improving treatment and earlier diagnosis of these conditions, productivity, tax revenues and GDP could grow.


The Burden of Disease: The Economic Case for Investment in Quality Improvement and Medical Progress from United Bioscience’s Center for Health Economics and Science Policy looks at 11 chronic and 2 acute conditions and quantifies the cost to the U.S. economy.

The chart illustrates the upper end of the costs that the Center found, based on analyses of the available literature sources for each of the disease states scrutinized.

As the chart shows, the indirect costs of cancer alone — $306 billion — account for about 22% of the total economic drain, followed by substance abuse, hypertension, and heart disease.

“Targeted investment in health care coupled with a reorganization of the health system to deliver care more effectively, can reduce the frequency and severity of these conditions, improving quality of life while boosting the nation’s economy,” the report concludes.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: If providers in the U.S. ‘merely’ delivered care based on the best available and current knowledge about effective treatment, then the GDP could be directly, positively impacted. That’s the ultimate goal of comparative effectiveness, a concept that is an integral part of the ARRA stimulus investment. It was a prescient and smart line item to include in ARRA: coupled with the investment in health IT for providers, these relatively small investments could yield impacts far beyond improving the clinical health of the nation along with reducing unnecessary spending on health services. If fully spent and effectively implemented, these investments should improve the fiscal health of the nation, as well.

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