With insurance premiums constantly increasing, it’s getting harder and harder to fulfill one of life’s basic functions: staying alive. And with for-profit pharmaceutical companies looking to line their pockets, it should come as no surprise that healthcare costs are skyrocketing as well.
If you are especially unlucky, you may find yourself in a health situation that requires extensive medical care, which can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Here’s a look at the top ten most expensive disease treatment programs in America right now:
10. Hepatitis C (HCV) – Hepatitis C is a difficult to control virus, and without treatment, can cripple day-to-day life. It is the most common blood-borne virus in the United States, currently infecting more than three million people, according to the Center for Disease Control. It must be proactively managed, and that means using medication like Sovaldi and Harvoni. If you have to use either of these treatments, it could cost you between $45,000 – $50,000 for a 12 week regimen.
9. Back and Neck Pain – It may sound trifling, but lower back pain and neck pain is a $88 billion annual expenditure in the United States, according to a 2016 report in the Journal of American Medical Association. If you want to avoid footing the bill for some of this ridiculously expensive treatment, consider an ergonomic desk and reducing your weight; poor posture and stress on the spine and muscles are the #1 contributor.
8. High Blood Pressure – High blood pressure can often go unnoticed, as the symptoms don’t always manifest themselves in everyday life. Regardless, the constant pressure against the lining of your artery walls by rapid blood flow can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, if undetected. Add in the stress of everyday life, and you have a total annual healthcare bill of nearly $83 billion, just to treat high blood pressure.
7. Diabetes – Chances are, you probably know not one, but several people with either diabetes, or pre-diabetes, its ugly forerunner. Nine percent of Americans live with one or the other, costing nearly $100 billion in healthcare-related expenses. Untreated diabetes can lead to massive health problems later in life, such as heart and kidney disease, nerve problems, vision loss, and even amputations of entire limbs. Fortunately, this is one disease that is more treatable “in-house:” by eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly, you can slash your risk of getting diabetes dramatically.
6. Osteoarthritis – $47 billion – that’s how much the annual cost of treatments are for a disease that many of us associate with older people. In fact, most experts predict that one out of every two people will have a form of osteoarthritis in their lifetime, resulting in medications, physical therapy, and maybe even hospitalization for a hip or knee replacement. Again, the full force of this can be decreased dramatically by watching what you eat and exercising regularly.
5. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – COPD and its second cousin asthma, affects nearly 36 million Americans every year (11 million with COPD, and 25 million with asthma). Though smoking is touted as the usual culprit with COPD, air pollutants and bad genes are also to blame. The total cost for all this wheezing? Roughly $86 billion per year.
4. Mental and Behavioral Disorders – While depression is the major player in this space, other developmental disorders like ADHD and anxiety are also in play, leading to an annual cost of nearly $123 billion. Unfortunately, initial consultation is not the only expense incurred with this disease; the cost of medication is astronomical and follow-up visits are vital to preventing relapse. If you fall off the wagon on treatment, it can send the victim down into a spiral, possibly forcing them to start all over again – expensive medical bills and all.
3. Cancer – It may surprise you that cancer is this low on the list (normally we would assume it is the most expensive treatment), but the stats are still staggering: almost one in every four deaths in the United States is related somehow to cancer. These can include, colorectoral cancer, breast cancer, non-melanoma skin cancers, neoplasms or any one of the other variations of this horrid disease. The cost just for those four diseases mentioned are north of $50 billion, and only expected to increase due to the costs of new immunotherapy agents and diagnostic tools. Fortunately, the death rate of cancer has dropped over the last ten years, but that doesn’t mean Americans aren’t spending a fortune to keep the cancer beast at bay.
2. Broken Bones and other Physical Injuries – Here’s a startling fact: one out of every five falls causes some kind of serious injury, whether it’s a broken bone, head injury, or some other kind of traumatic event. With thirty-seven million emergency department visits and 2.6 million hospital admissions resulting in nearly $76 billion in injuries from falls alone, it’s no surprise that this ranks in at number two on our list. The elderly make up the largest demographic of this category by far, and the repercussions can be dire: women that have sustained a hip fracture are five times more likely to die within a year of their fall, whereas men are eight times more likely.
1. Heart Disease – Hospitalization, surgery, tests, monitoring, specialists, and a fatality rate of over 370,000 place heart disease as the number one cause of death in the United States, totaling nearly $317 billion in health related costs and lost productivity. To put that number in perspective, the GDP of the country of Israel is ranked number thirty-four in the world, which would make cardiac-related expenses in just the U.S. alone, if it were a country, number thirty-five. That is a staggering statistic, but when you factor in all the extraneous health issues that go along with it, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and others, the price tag should come with little surprise.