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Minnesota’s Bill to Treat Chronic Illness Will Top $18 Billion by 2023

Minnesota’s Bill to Treat Chronic Illness Will Top $18 Billion by 2023

State study projects a nearly 35 percent increase with employers likely picking up much of the tab.

Years from now, health care economists and health insurance actuaries may look back fondly on 2017 as the last year that it cost less than $14 billion to treat Minnesotans with chronic medical illnesses.
 
A new report from the Minnesota Department of Health projects that chronic medical illness treatment costs will jump by nearly 35 percent to about $18.2 billion by 2023 from about $13.5 billion this year.
 
The department released the report, Treated Chronic Disease Costs in Minnesota—a Look Back and a Look Forward, earlier this week. The 106-page report is based on an analysis of claims paid by both public and private health insurers for medical services and prescription drugs for patients with chronic medical illnesses.
 
Adults age 60 or older suffering from one or more chronic medical conditions will drive the increase in treatment costs over the next six years, according to data cited in the report. Those costs will jump 38.8 percent to about $16.1 billion by 2023 from about $11.6 billion this year. By comparison, the treatment costs of state residents under the age of 60 suffering from one or more chronic medical conditions will rise just 9.8 percent to about $2.1 billion by 2023 from about $1.9 billion in 2017.
 
The report also broke out projected medical service and prescription drug costs by five specific chronic conditions: dementia, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and smoking exposure—also known as the combination of smoking and secondhand smoke. The report said over the next six years:
 
  • The cost to treat Minnesotans with hypertension will rise 31.2 percent to about $7.8 billion
  • The cost to treat Minnesotans with diabetes will rise 28.5 percent to about $2.1 billion
  • The cost to treat Minnesotans with obesity will rise 14.6 percent to about $514.5 million
  • The cost to treat Minnesotans with dementia will rise 35.7 percent to $396.7 million
  • The cost to treat Minnesotans with smoking exposure will rise 19.2 percent to $237.3 million
 
“If we do not pair our ongoing efforts to create a more efficient health care delivery system with a public health approach that focuses on both individual and community-based strategies for reducing the prevalence of chronic disease, the state will continue to see health care costs for chronic conditions rise to a point where they become unsustainable,” the report warned.
 
For employers, the report is a warning that unless they do more to prevent and manage chronic medical illnesses in the workforce, they will be facing double-digit increases in health care costs.
 
To learn more about what employers can do, read “The ROI of Diabetes Management” in the November issue of Twin Cities Business.