Chronic Care Costs Jump

Article excerpt

Should efforts to prevent chronic illness be understood as a strategy to save money, or as an investment that costs money but produces better health? Can innovations in delivery, such as multidisciplinary teams and disease-management programs, effectively combat chronic conditions? How can Medicare lead the way in improving chronic care?

These key questions are raised and debated in a series of articles published in the January-February 2009 issue of the journal Health Affairs.

In the first study ever to track out-ofpocket healthcare costs comprehensively over 10 years (1996-2005), researchers found that a rise in chronic disease, particularly among boomers and older adults, was the fundamental factor in a nearly 40% jump in direct out-of-pocket healthcare spending during the decade.

"Chronic conditions are more than just a health issue for the elderly," said lead coauthor Kathryn Paez, senior research scientist at the Maryland-based Center for Health Policy and Research, Social and Scientific Systems. "Taking the time and making the effort to prevent diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes will save Americans money and increase their quality of life. …