Sunday, February 22, 2004

The Cost of Disease

Three or four weeks ago, there was a study that showed that obestity in America is starting to get really expensive in terms of medical costs. There were headlines like this:It's easy to look at something like that and ignore it, especially if you are thin. But think about it this way -- if there are 100 million households in America, $75 billion means that every household in the country is spending $750 to treat obesity. We don't really "feel it" in that way. No one sends us a "national obesity bill" at the end of the year for $750. But we do end up paying that $750 bill for obesity in one way or another -- taxes are higher, and the prices of things we buy are higher (because the company we buy from pays for the health insurance of employees, the cost of health insurance is embedded in the price of the products, and health insurance costs are rising.)

Then about 2 weeks later there was this report: Total costs for back pain are $26 billion, or $260 per household.

So I started to poke around. Here's a chart that shows mortality rates, and therefore shows some of the nation's most common diseases [from the CDC]:

The costs really add up:Right now the U.S. spends a total of about $1.6 trillion per year on healthcare. It is projected to rise to $3.1 trillion by 2012.

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