Medicare Monday: How finding an Alzheimer’s treatment could lower Medicare spending

Nicole Longo   |     May 8, 2017   |   SHARE THIS


Alzheimer’s disease is devastating and impacts more than 5.5 million Americans and their families. While America’s biopharmaceutical researchers have been working tirelessly to find a cure for the disease, there is still a long way to go to ease the burden on patients and the health care system.

Alzheimer’s costs our health care system billions of dollars each year. This year alone, the cost of Alzheimer’s care will reach $259 billion. As our population continues to age, that number is only expected to grow. By 2050, the cost of care is projected to quadruple to more than $1 trillion, according to a new report by the Alzheimer’s Association.

Alzheimer’s disease spending has an immense impact on Medicare in particular. In 2017, Medicare is expected to cover $131 billion, or more than half of the total health care and long-term care costs for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Additionally, the Medicare program paid an average of $23,497 in annual per-person payments in 2016 for beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. This number is substantially higher than the $7,223 the program paid per person for beneficiaries without Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

In order to ease the burden on patients, the Medicare program and our health care system in general, continued research and development to find cures and treatments for Alzheimer’s is critical.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s 2015 report found that a new treatment that delays the onset of the disease by just five years would avoid $367 billion annually in costs by 2050 – nearly 40 percent of which would be savings in Medicare costs. 

The biopharmaceutical industry is investing in research efforts today in hopes of alleviating the financial burden of Alzheimer’s disease and ultimately finding a cure so that millions of patients and their families worldwide can live happier, healthier lives.

Learn more about the work being done in the fight against Alzheimer’s here.

Nicole Longo

Nicole Longo Nicole is senior director of public affairs at PhRMA focusing on Medicare, 340B, importation and more. She previously worked for a D.C.-based public affairs firm where she assisted a wide range of clients with communications efforts on everything from trade policy to agriculture policy to health care policy. Outside the office, Nicole can be found trying new restaurants (usually Italian), taking an occasional barre class and cheering on the Cincinnati Bengals.

Topics: Alzheimer's, Medicare, Medicare Monday

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