COPD Costs
July 30, 2014

The Financial Costs Of COPD Estimated To Be $36 Billion Annually In The United States

Rayshell Clapper for - Your Universe Online

Smoking cigarettes is bad on all levels. It can bring on heart disease (the number one killer of men and women in America), aggravate pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, and lead to lung diseases such as cancer or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), just to name a few. Smoking has its dirty fingers in many of the mental and physical health conditions that ail Americans.

COPD is one of the many chronic lower respiratory diseases which are currently the number three leading cause of death of Americans. COPD claimed almost 135,000 lives in 2011. That demands attention.

According to a new report by the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released data about the annual financial costs of COPD in the US:

• 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.

These dollar amounts should grab our attention as should the fact that COPD claimed almost 135,000 lives in 2011. Even more concerning is that 12.7 million adults in America are estimated to have COPD and even more show signs of impaired lung functioning. As the number three killer right now, these facts should alarm all of us whether we are affected (either directly with a chronic lower respiratory disease or indirectly by having a loved one with such ailments).

The National Heart, Lungs, and Blood Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, identifies the common signs and symptoms of COPD as the following:

• An ongoing cough or a cough that produces a lot of mucus (often called "smoker's cough")

• Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity

• Wheezing (a whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe)

• Chest tightness

These symptoms are often confused with symptoms of cold and flu, so the best bet if these symptoms persist is to see a doctor. More severe symptoms include the following:

• You're having a hard time catching your breath or talking.

• Your lips or fingernails turn blue or gray. (This is a sign of a low oxygen level in your blood.)

• You're not mentally alert.

• Your heartbeat is very fast.

• The recommended treatment for symptoms that are getting worse isn't working.

These require emergency care.

COPD is directly related to smoking although other things can cause it as well. However, smoking cigarettes is the primary risk factor and accounts for about 80 percent of COPD deaths. Quitting smoking and, better yet, never starting smoking are the best ways to prevent COPD, which is a mostly preventable disease. As the CHEST study shows, COPD is incredibly expensive and, most importantly, dangerous and deadly. As a disease that is mostly preventable, we should all work to help ourselves and our loved ones avoid COPD by preventing and reducing tobacco use. Preventing and reducing tobacco use will also help many other diseases, disorders, and overall health conditions. It is worth the effort to find ways to eliminate smoking. Not only will this save money (certainly a positive outcome), but it will also save lives, the most important outcome.

The full study can be found in the CHEST Journal.