More chronic illness in younger people

Stethoscope and chart

TEXT OF STORY

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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