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Alzheimer’s disease will cost U.S. $20 trillion over the next 40 years

Posted Jun 01 2010 5:00am

A new report released by the Alzheimer's Association indicates that the cumulative costs of caring for people with Alzheimer's Disease from 2010 to 2050 will exceed 20 trillion dollars US at current prices.  The report, titled Changing the Trajectory of Alzheimer's Disease: A National Imperative examines the current trajectory of Alzheimer's Disease based on a statistical model developed by the Lewin Group.   According to current estimates, the number of Americans with Alzheimer's Disease will likely increase from the current 5.1 million to 13.5 million by 2050.  Total care costs, currently at $172 billion by all payers, will soar dramatically in the years to come with Medicare costs alone rising from the current $88 billion to more than 1 trillion dollars in 2050.  Nearly half of the projected 13.5 million Alzheimer sufferers will likely be in the severe stage of the disease with intensive, round-the-clock care being needed. 

Part of the reason for the estimated rise in Alzheimer's Disease patients stems from the general aging of the total population as well as better health care which lowers the likelihood of seniors dying for non-Alzheimer's related diseases in future. While there is no current treatment to delay or ameliorate Alzheimer's Disease, the report explores the cost saving resulting from hypothetical treatment developments within the next five to ten years.  The authors of the report also stress the need for more extensive research into new treatments which is deemed to be extremely cost-effective given the catastrophic alternative. 

"The impact of Alzheimer's disease — both in terms of lives affected and costs of care — is staggering. As government leaders contend with the best approaches to rein in Medicare and Medicaid costs, we know Alzheimer's will place a massive strain on an already overburdened healthcare system," said Robert J. Egge, vice president of public policy for the Alzheimer's Association. "This report highlights that while we strive for the ideal — a treatment that completely prevents or cures Alzheimer's disease — even more modest, disease-modifying treatments would provide substantial benefits to families and contribute to the solvency of Medicare and Medicaid."  As part of their initiative to encourage critical legislation to address the current shortfall in treatment and research initiatives, legislators have introduced The National Alzheimer's Project Act.  Designed to create an Office of the  National Alzheimer's Project, the act will spur the development of a national plan for dealing with the Alzheimer's crisis by drawing on resources and experts from different fields across the nation.  The act also represents a model for other nations to draw upon to address the crisis that they face in their own health systems as well.

For more information .

To download the report . (PDF format).

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