CDC reports annual financial cost of COPD to be $36 billion in the United States

July 24, 2014

The American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) announced today the Online First publication of 'Total and State-Specific Medical and Absenteeism Costs of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years in the United States for 2010 and Projections Through 2020' in the journal CHEST.

The report, presented by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), finds:

  • In 2010, the total national medical costs attributable to COPD were estimated at $32.1 billion dollars annually.
  • Absenteeism costs were $3.9 billion for a total burden of $36 billion in COPD-attributable costs.
  • An estimated 16.4 million days of work were lost due to COPD each year.
  • Of the medical cost, 18% was paid for by private insurance, 51% by Medicare, and 25% by Medicaid.
  • The study also projects a rise in medical costs from $32.1 billion in 2010 to $49 billion by 2020.

Chronic lower respiratory diseases, including COPD, are the third-leading cause of death in the United States. COPD claimed the lives of 134,676 people in 2010. In 2011, 12.7 million US adults were estimated to have COPD. However, close to 24 million US adults have evidence of impaired lung function, indicating an underdiagnosis of COPD. Smoking is a primary risk factor of COPD, and approximately 80% of COPD deaths can be attributed to smoking.

"Evidence-based interventions that prevent and reduce tobacco use and reduce clinical complications of COPD may result in potential decreased COPD-attributable costs," said Earl Ford, MD, MPH, Division of Population Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report also offers state-by-state data. "For the first time, our analyses provide state-specific costs for COPD, which provide state public health practitioners with estimates of the economic burden of COPD within their borders and illustrates the potential medical and absenteeism costs savings to states through implementing state level programs that are designed to prevent the onset of COPD," says Earl Ford, MD, researcher with the Division of Population Health, CDC.

More information: Chest. 2014. DOI: 10.1378/chest.14-0972

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