The High Costs of Poor Health

Chronic disease, especially obesity, is literally weighing us down financially and emotionally, resulting in a less productive work force with less innovation.  If projections hold true, the legacy we leave future generations is not something to brag about.

Take a look at some of these statistics…

More than half of Americans currently suffer from at least one chronic disease.  The total cost of chronic disease on the American economy is more than $1.3 trillion per year and is expected to rise above $6 trillion by 2050.  $277 billion of that is spent on disease treatment (not including follow up or other diseases that will arise since most chronic diseases are a precursor for more disease) and $1.1 trillion is spent on lost productivity.  In other words, if we had a healthy America we would produce another $1.3 trillion every year that could be invested in our future and our children’s future. Instead, this money is simply lost.

The amazing thing about these astronomical figures is that they are almost all avoidable and more importantly, reversible.

Studies have demonstrated that even modest changes such as exercising twice a week or cutting down on smoking can decrease the overall costs by up to $1 trillion, adding almost that amount of money to our GDP.  Lower obesity rates alone could save about $300 billion per year.

The problem with these numbers often seems that they are too large to ascertain.  Only politicians, doctors or healthcare administrators are interested enough in the aggregate to be motivated by these numbers.  

Well, what about the individual, what about you? 

Estimates state the average person with a chronic disease spends anywhere from $3500 - $15,000 annually.  These costs are in health insurance premiums, drugs, hospital visits, surgeries, and in many cases a reduction in salary due to the employer having to pay for their health insurance (ironically, this is often a cost people overlook since they do not see it).  And then of course the rest of the cost is shared by all of us.

This is our legacy:  a less inventive generation with a lower life expectancy that has trouble paying the electric bill. 

But don’t forget this is reversible.

It’s time to realize we are all in this together.  Our children’s futures depend upon it.

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