Three studies came out last week highlighting the burden of chronic disease. The first, by the University of Oxford, found that being obese can shorten your lifespan and, in the case of morbidly obese patients, have the same effect as lifelong smoking, taking about 10 years off their expected lifespan. The second, a survey commissioned by the National Council on Aging , found that Americans with chronic health problem are delaying necessary care. The third, by Hewitt Associates, found that the number of companies taking action to combat chronic diseases among employees and their families jumped almost 30 percent over the past year.
These studies reiterate that Americans are being hit from both sides when it comes to chronic disease. Their health is suffering and, because of their disease burden, they can’t afford the care they need to adequately manage their chronic conditions. It’s a crushing cycle.
What we can do, and what I've heard support for during the forums in Vermont and Iowa, is re-design our system to make it easier from a cost and time perspective for Americans to actively prevent illness and treat disease before it becomes acute and aggressive. This is not only the smart thing to do, but an area where we have great consensus between the parties and major health care stakeholders.