Chronic diseases cost BCBSM

August 6, 2010
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Michigan residents with three or more chronic conditions have annual health care costs that average 10 times as much as someone with no such conditions, according to a recent report by the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation in Ann Arbor.

The report, part of a larger study called “The Cost Burden of Disease,” looked at utilization and spending in 2008 in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s adult, non-Medicare population. It covered seven chronic diseases.

About 53 percent of BCBSM spending on the chronic conditions went toward two: mental health conditions and diabetes.

The insurer, Michigan’s largest and a funder of the CHRT, spent an average of $2,788 per year for people with no chronic conditions. Three or more chronic conditions pushed the spending average to $27,763 annually, according to the report.

“When we reduce the incidence of chronic disease, we improve the health of the population,” CHRT Director Marianne Udow-Philips said.

Thirty-five percent of BCBSM patients had at least one chronic disease in the year studied, and they accounted for 64 percent of spending.

Disease-specific spending was part of overall higher costs for these patients. For congestive heart failure, BCBSM’s per patient average spending was $9,263; for coronary artery disease, $4,623; for osteoarthritis, $2,819; for chronic obstructive lung disease, $1,637; for mental disorders excluding dementia, $2,828; for diabetes, $2,091; and for asthma, $1,797.

The 5 percent of the U.S. population with complicated health conditions account for about half of health care spending, the report stated.

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