More chronic illness in younger people

Stethoscope and chart


Steve Chiotakis: There's a new study out this morning that looks at out-of-pocket medical costs, and it compares what people are paying today versus a decade ago. It's much more today -- 40 percent more. Apparently people are getting chronic diseases -- and more of them -- earlier in life. Here's Marketplace's Dan Grech.

Dan Grech: Alexis is an urban planner in White Plains, New York. At age 30, she has two chronic illnesses -- fibromyalgia and gastroparesis. Even with health insurance, her co-payments for doctors' visits and prescription drugs are $250 a month.

Alexis: It is a lot of money. There are sometimes certain doctors I think I should visit but don't, because I just don't want to spend $20.

That balancing act is becoming more common, according to a new study in the journal Health Affairs. Study author Kathy Paez found that middle-aged Americans today are 10 percent more likely to suffer from more than one chronic disease.

Kathy Paez: Because they have multiple diseases, they're having to purchase a number of medications, and then their co-payments are higher, because employers are coping with the costs by reducing benefits.

Paez says obesity and a lack of exercise are leading to more chronic illness.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned the effects of exposure to all the chemicals in today's buildings. Plasticizers, cleaning chemicals, adhesives etc. are everywhere yet rarely tested for safety. Many anecdotal connections exist among the people I know (including me.) How many kids do you know who are allergic to various chemicals - or food additives? Remember we've even had complete buildings shut down because whole companies get sick?

i have fibromyalgia and thank god i have medicare. i still spend over $7,ooo a year for medicines just for me and my insurance pays $l8,000. it's impossible, and then comes the hole which is about $5,000 a year. so you see being sick,even if not dying, is very expensive. and i am lucky, my medicines work.

The leading cause of chronic disease even before "obesity" and "lack of exercise" is poor nutrition in the body. Did you know the body can heal itself if it just has the right nutrients in most cases? Foods we eat today do not have all the vitamins it used to carry decades ago, lacking nutrients to fight diseases. Get vitamin supplements to help. Studies show vitamins can nourish the body in areas where it lacks from foods we eat. Taking care of your body now, prevents less doctor visits in the future.

That is not always the case. My family does not have health insurance and free samples from the doctor help keep the cost down.

A friend of our family who lives in California shadowed a doctor for 2 years. During that time big pharmaceutical co. reps would pay the doc daily visits. They would bring him samples to give to patients. They also would buy him and the office staff expensive lunches on the company credit cards. Free trips to the doc and family. What my daughter noticed is that everytime they introduced a new medicine-that week every patient was prescribed that medicine. For example restless leg syndrome. He would asks patients on his own if they were restless at night. "Do you have a lot of leg movement when you sleep?" Most of us normally do. Then guess what - they go diagnosed with restless leg syndrome and got meds. Pretty sad.

I'm an MPR/NPR 'junkie' and love the in-depth reporting on a variety of issues. This one hit close to home. I'm a pharmacist, providing Medication Therapy Management. I help work with patients and healthcare providers to help patients optimize medication therpy- get better outcomes from their drugs. Not only do patients often reduce their healthcare costs, but they get better results too. It's really win-win. Health insurance companies in Minnesota and across the nation are beginning to recognize this. Research has been out for nearly a decade showing the benefit to patients and our healthcare system. In my opinion, it would be worth while for MPR to do a more detailed story on this type of service. It could benefit so many people!

Thanks for keeping us informed!

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