Apathy About Health, Lifestyles Costs Everyone Dearly

When it comes to chronic disease caused by unhealthy lifestyles, Aetna Health has cited some alarming numbers and trends for the costs of the epidemic of apathy toward health and lifestyle.

“The growing burden of chronic diseases adds significantly to escalating health care costs. Researchers predict a 42 percent increase in chronic disease cases by 2023, adding $4.2 trillion in treatment costs and lost economic output. Much of this cost is preventable, since many chronic conditions are linked to unhealthy lifestyles.

“Key drivers in the increased cost of health care are unhealthy behavioral and lifestyle choices. Research shows that behavior is the most significant determinant of health status, with as much as 70 percent of health care costs attributable to individual behaviors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, and obesity.

“Each smoker costs an employer an additional $5,128 a year in health care costs and lost productivity. Other sources show that smoking is responsible for approximately 8.7 percent of total U.S. health care costs.

“These and other lifestyle behaviors lead to many serious chronic health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease, and consumers are seeking medical solutions for these lifestyle issues rather than practicing wellness behavior.”

The National Association of Health Underwriters brings home the stark realities of Americans lifestyle behaviors that result in chronic lifestyle conditions.

“People with chronic [lifestyle] conditions are the most frequent users of health care in the U.S. They account for 81% of hospital admissions; 91% of all prescriptions filled; and 76% of all physician visits. Chronic [lifestyle] diseases also account for the vast majority of health spending…more than 75% went toward treatment of chronic disease.

“That is equivalent to $5,000 worth of spending per person on treatment of chronic [lifestyle] disease – more than double what the average American spends on gasoline in a year.

“In publicly funded health programs, spending on chronic [lifestyle] disease represents an even greater proportion of total spending: more than 99% in Medicare and 83% in Medicaid.

“U.S. employers and employees are paying for the high costs of chronic [lifestyle] disease through the increase in health costs associated with greater demand for and use of health care services.

“Health care premiums for employer-sponsored family coverage have increased by 87% since 2000.

“Health care coverage costs for people with a chronic [lifestyle caused] condition average $6,032 annually – five times higher than for those without such a condition.

“The total cost of obesity to U.S. companies is estimated at $13 billion annually. This includes the “extra” cost of health insurance ($8 billion), sick leave ($2.4 billion), life insurance ($1.8 billion), and disability insurance ($1 billion) associated with obesity.

“While today’s situation is grave, the chronic [lifestyle] disease crisis looms even larger tomorrow.

The punch line? By 2025, chronic diseases will affect an estimated 164 million Americans – nearly half (49%) of the population.  Imagine the annual premiums for health care insurance then.


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