The Value of Delaying Alzheimer’s Disease Onset

Alzheimer’s disease directly effects millions of Americans today and this number is only expected to grow in the coming decades. 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.

Other key findings include:

  • From 2010 to 2050, the number of individuals aged 70+ with Alzheimer’s will increase 153 percent, from 3.6 to 9.1 million.
  • Annual per-person costs of the disease were $71,000 in 2010, which is expected to double 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.

The full study is available at Forum for Health Economics and Policy.

Citation: Zissimopoulos, J., Crimmins, E., & Clair, P. S. (2015, January). The value of delaying Alzheimer’s disease onset. In Forum for Health Economics and Policy (Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 25-39). De Gruyter.