Real threats to healthcare costs

KEY TAKEAWAY: Drug prices, in 2014, were less than 10% of every health care dollar spent.  While politicians and media writers, who only want to tap into popular subjects, continue to fan the flames of runaway drug pricing the real threats to healthcare spending are an aging population and a public that refuses to take responsibility for their own health.

U.S. health care costs rose last year by 5.3 percent — topping $3 trillion — and much attention has been given to the impact of soaring drug prices Alzheimer’s disease also threatens to wreak havoc with the health care budget in the coming years as millions of aging Americans will require long and costly care.  This year alone, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia cost the nation $226 billion in medical treatment, nursing home facilities, lost wages of family members taking care of their loved ones and other related costs, according to a report by the Alzheimer’s Association.

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Then there is a public that is used to supersizing their meals.  Obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases and health care costs in the United States. Currently, estimates for these costs range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year.1 In addition, obesity is associated with job absenteeism, costing approximately $4.3 billion annually2 and with lower productivity while at work, costing employers $506 per obese worker per year. 22 states have an adult obesity rate of 30% or higher.

Then there are the costs of Type 2 diabetes.   In men diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at ages 25-44 years, 45-54 years, 55-64 years, and ≥ 65 years, the lifetime direct medical costs of treating type 2 diabetes and diabetic complications were $124,700, $106,200, $84,000, and $54,700, respectively. Let’s keep in mind that most cases of Type 2 diabetes are preventable.

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We all should be scared.. very scared about the cost of these health problems, but we should also be outraged that we aren’t doing enough to educate and inform the public about the dangers of bad health practices.  This is where doctors, the AMA and the FDA have failed us.

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