Alzheimer’s Costs in Billions and Counting
By Todd Neale, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today // April 17, 2012
EDITOR’S NOTE: So far, my family has been blessed not to have been faced with a loved one touched by Alzheimer’s. Both my mother and mother-in-law, who are 84 and live locally, are still independent, active and very perspicacious.
However, the ever-looming possibility of Alzheimer’s, which affects one in eight elderly Americans and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only one among the top ten without a way to cure, prevent or even slow its progression, invaded the life of a very good friend and colleague of mine, who had to quit practicing and cope with the diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 62 (also my age) last year.
The $183 billion price-tag for Alzheimer’s in 2011 alone has captured the attention of Congress and, despite the partisan bickering related to other issues, Congress unanimously passed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act over a year ago. This act creates a coordinated national approach to addressing the Alzheimer’s crisis by ensuring coordination and evaluation of all national efforts in Alzheimer’s research, clinical care, institutional, home, and community- based programs and their outcomes.
Please go to www.alzheimers.org and show your support for this act by signing a petition, urging President Obama to fulfill the promise of this act and make sure it is supported and fully funded.
That total includes the direct costs of caring for patients, including healthcare, long-term care, and hospice.
Roughly half will be paid by Medicare ($104.5 billion), with the rest covered by Medicaid ($33.5 billion), out-of-pocket spending ($33.8 billion), and other sources ($26.2 billion), which includes private insurance, health maintenance organizations, other managed care organizations, and uncompensated care.
In the absence of advances in prevention and treatment, the cost of caring for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias could reach $1.1 trillion (in 2012 dollars) by 2050, a trend driven by an aging population, according to the report.
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