Disease prevention, early detection and medical innovation are critical to reducing the estimated $1.4 trillion drag that healthcare puts on the U.S. economy, according to a study commissioned by the Advanced Medical Technology Assn.
The study, conducted by economists at United BioSource Corp., aimed to quantify the impact of lost productivity due to chronic and acute conditions on the national economy and put a number on the impact on the gross domestic product of improving healthcare. UBC researchers reviewed 2,000 abstracts of articles published in peer-reviewed journals for the study.
Formed in 2003 by Ethan Leder and Mark Clein with $153 million in private equity and venture capital backing, Washington, D.C.-based UBC provides consulting services to life science companies.
Focusing on conditions that mostly affect working-age adults — including heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, obesity, respiratory conditions and injury and trauma — the researchers found that cancer alone costs at least $134 billion each year in lost productivity and could ding the GDP by as much as $306 billion annually.
Improving prevention, treatment and management of disease could result in annual GDP increases of more than $1 trillion by 2023, according to the study. Effectively preventing and treating obesity alone could add $38 billion a year back into the economy, and better handling of heart attacks could add another $16 billion.
But the gains won’t come without broad healthcare reform and continued advances in medical innovation.
Greg de Lissovoy, one of the study’s authors, said on a conference call with reporters that the country is facing an “epidemic” of metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes that will “pose a devastating burden on Medicare, since it will all fall on Medicare someday.”
“The best we can do is slow this epidemic,” de Lissovoy said, adding that “we think there is rationale for a national program in the order of putting man on the moon” to address obesity and diabetes.
And there is little data, mostly driven by groups with an interest in the conditions, addressing which conditions are the most pressing to address, he said. More research is needed from players like the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, de Lissovoy said.