Chronic diseases cost BCBSM

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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