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Chronic Disease

The Cost of Chronic Diseases in the U.S. 

May 25, 2018

Hugh Waters and Marlon Graf 


Americans’ chronic health problems and diseases not only come at the expense of individuals’ well-being, they also constitute a massive burden on the U.S. economy. When including the costs of lost economic productivity, the total costs of chronic diseases in the U.S. is equivalent to almost one fifth of the American economy. 

This report assesses the overall economic impact of chronic health conditions in America.

Key findings:

  • In 2016, the total costs in the U.S. for direct health care treatment for chronic health conditions totaled $1.1 trillion—equivalent to nearly six percent of the nation’s GDP. 
  • The most expensive conditions in terms of direct health care costs are diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and osteoarthritis.
  • The most common chronic health conditions in the U.S. are hypertension (high blood pressure), dyslipidemia, and osteoarthritis.
  • Obesity is by far the greatest risk factor contributing to the burden of chronic diseases in the U.S.