Alzheimer's Disease to Cost the U.S. $20 Trillion by 2050

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A new report from the Alzheimer's Association shows that in the absence of disease-modifying treatments, the cumulative costs of care for Alzheimer's patients from 2010 to 2050 will exceed $20 trillion.

A new report from the Alzheimer's Association, Changing the Trajectory of Alzheimer's Disease: A National Imperative, shows that in the absence of disease-modifying treatments, the cumulative costs of care for Alzheimer’s patients from 2010 to 2050 will exceed $20 trillion. The report, which examines the current trajectory of the disease based on a model developed by the Lewin Group for the Alzheimer's Association, also demonstrates that the number of Americans age 65 and older who have the condition will increase from the 5.1 million to 13.5 million.

“Alzheimer’s not only poses a significant threat to millions of families, but also drives tremendous costs for government programs like Medicare and Medicaid,” said Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association.

Total costs of care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease by all payers will soar from $172 billion in 2010 to more than $1 trillion in 2050, with Medicare costs increasing more than 600 percent, from $88 billion today to $627 billion in 2050. During the same time period, Medicaid costs will rise 400 percent, from $34 billion to $178 billion. One factor driving the exploding costs by 2050 is that 48 percent of the projected 13.5 million people with Alzheimer’s will be in the severe stage of the disease—when more expensive, intensive around-the-clock care is often necessary.

The report, however, also shows that Medicare and Medicaid can achieve dramatic savings with even incremental treatment improvements. Based on the same Lewin Group model, the report explores one scenario in which a disease-modifying treatment could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years, and another in which a hypothetical treatment could slow the progression of this condition.

“Today, there are no treatments that can prevent, delay, slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Johns. “While the ultimate goal is a treatment that can completely prevent or cure Alzheimer's, we can now see that even modest improvements can have a huge impact.”

To read the full text of the report, go to www.alz.org/trajectory.

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