Economics of Alzheimer’s disease

    Improve Health Outcomes for An Aging Society

    Economics of Alzheimer’s Disease

    Alzheimer’s disease directly effects 43 million Americans over age 65 people today, and it is projected to add another 6 million to its count by 2050. Medicare and Medicaid, which today foot three-fourths of the bill for care, are far from ready.

    Research by Julie Zissimopoulos, Patricia St. Clair, and Eileen Crimmins shows that costs associated with Alzheimer’s care will nearly quintuple by 2050 unless something is done.  They find the financial burden of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States will increase from $307 billion annually to $1.5 trillion by 2050.

    However, the researchers found that delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s even a little can yield major benefits — both in quality of life and in overall costs. Medical advances that delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years add about 2.7 years of life for patients. By 2050, a five-year delay in onset results in a 41 percent lower prevalence of the disease and lowers the overall costs to society by 40 percent.

    (image credit­: USC News)

    Using Claims Data to Analyze Whether Already Available Drugs, like Statins, Might Lower the Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

    A study published in JAMA Neurology in December 2016 showed that, based on a sample of 399,979 Medicare beneficiaries, men and women who took statins two years or more lowered their risk of AD by 12 and 15 percent respectively.

    Zissimopoulos and her colleagues, including Schaeffer Center Director of Health Policy Geoffrey Joyce and Postdoctoral Fellow Douglas Barthold, found incidence of Alzheimer's disease was reduced for beneficiaries frequently prescribed statins (high users), compared to low users. In comparing the two groups, they found different statins results in different reductions of risk among men and women and different racial groups.

    For example, Simvastatin was associated with declined incidences among white men and women, Hispanic men and women, and black women. Among black men, high statin use was not associated with a statistically significant reduction in AD risk.

    Next, Zissimopoulos plans to study combinations of other existing drugs used for chronic conditions to measure their effects on the risk of AD and dementia.

    Zissimopoulos JM, Barthold D, Brinton RD, Joyce G. Sex and Race Differences in the Association Between Statin Use and the Incidence of Alzheimer Disease. JAMA Neurol. Published online December 12, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.3783

    Zissimopoulos, J., Crimmins, E., & St Clair, P. (2015, January). The Value of Delaying Alzheimer’s Disease Onset. Forum for Health Economics and Policy (Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 25-39).

    Zissimopoulos, J. M., Goldman, D. P., Olshansky, S. J., Rother, J., & Rowe, J. W. (2015). Individual & Social Strategies to Mitigate the Risks & Expand Opportunities of an Aging America. Daedalus, 144(2), 93-102.


    Cholesterol-fighting drugs lower risk of Alzheimer's disease

    The incidence of Alzheimer's was reduced for beneficiaries frequently prescribed statins (high users), compared to low users.

    Baby boomers will drive explosion in Alzheimer’s-related costs in coming decades, study finds

    Models show that the number of patients will more than double in 40 years, and costs associated with their care will nearly quintuple.



    Julie Zissimopoulos
    Julie Zissimopoulos
    Director, Education and Training, Schaeffer Center
    Vice Dean of Academic Affairs, USC Price School of Public Policy
    Assistant Professor, USC Price School of Public Policy

    Eileen Crimmins
    Eileen Crimmins
    Associate Dean, Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center
    Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology
    Director, USC/UCLA Center on Biodemography and Population Health