Wellness Works!

Chronic Diseases Impact the Bottom Line!

I recently came across a study done by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan that breaks down the health care spending by disease. Chronic diseases are the leading cause of disability and death in this country.  Unfortunately, most individuals with chronic diseases have co-morbidities (more than one chronic disease).  This only serves to drive up the per person cost for health care. As we know, ultimately, the burden is placed not only on the Medicare/Medicaid system, but on private employers that offer health insurance benefits.

There are health risks that are controllable.  We make the choice to smoke. Overweight/obesity can be modified.  We can lower the risk of disease by making healthier food choices.

An October, 2007, Milken Institutestudy, “An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease” reported that seven chronic diseases—cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary conditions, and mental illness—cost the nation $1.3 trillion annually, including $277 billion for treatment and nearly $1.1 trillion in lost productivity. This sum equates to $361 per month per American for 2007 for just those seven diseases. This number implies that treating chronic disease costs more than the extra cost of eating healthy.

Annual Health Care Spending for Patients- Selected Chronic Conditions


Chronic Disease

Condition Specific Amount

Total Amount

Congestive Heart Failure



Coronary Artery Disease






Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease



Mental Disorders (excluding Dementia)









No Selected Chronic Conditions


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