Chronic disease is the major battleground in 21st-century health care. Baby boomers will add 15 million to the 65-or-older population between 2010 and 2020. The biggest predictor of chronic disease is age. About 81 million people are expected to have multiple chronic conditions by 2020, compared with 51 million in 2000.
Here is what is expected for three of the most expensive conditions by 2020.
Cancer: The National Cancer Institute (NCI) expects spending on cancer treatment to rise 27 percent, to $158 billion, in 2020. NCI officials expect increases in the numbers of prostate- and breast-cancer patients. If new treatments and diagnostic tools add 2 percent to the annual cost, the 2020 price tag will be $173 billion, or a 39 percent increase. If they add 5 percent to the annual cost, the 2020 spending would be $207 billion, or a 66 percent increase.
Heart disease: The cost of treating cardiovascular disease is expected to rise by 75 percent, to $470.3 billion, in 2020. The cost estimate also assumes no major changes in treatment. About 37 percent of U.S. adults have some form of heart disease. Treatment costs are expected to triple between 2010 and 2030.
Diabetes: More than 50 percent of Americans may have diabetes or prediabetes by 2020, according to UnitedHealth Group’s Center for Health Reform & Modernization. Treatment is expected to account for 10 percent of health-care spending and cost about $500 billion annually. Pre-diabetes refers to elevated blood-glucose levels that are not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis.