Health Crisis


The Healthy People/Healthy Economy initiative is targeted at stemming a rising tide of preventable chronic illness and the threat it poses to the Commonwealth's health, fiscal stability and economic competitiveness. Left unchecked, higher rates of preventable chronic disease will create more medical needs and medical spending, draining limited resources from vital investments in education, the environment and other priorities that have a profound impact the quality of our health.

In Massachusetts, about one-third of all children and 58 percent of residents of all ages are either overweight or obese. Obesity is a risk factor for numerous preventable chronic diseases, from Type 2 diabetes to heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Type 2 diabetes, once almost unheard of among children, now represents a significant portion of all diabetes reported in the state. Overall, diabetes has jumped by nearly 40 percent in just a decade. As a result of the rise in chronic disease and other health-related factors, public and private spending on health care now exceeds $60 billion a year in Massachusetts.


Crisis: An Obesity Epidemic

In Massachusetts, some 30 percent of children and 58 percent of all residents are either overweight or obese—and the obesity rate has risen by eight percent in just eight years. While Massachusetts ranks well among all states on measures of obesity, our obesity rate today is equal to the worst among all states just 15 years ago. Moreover, overweight and obesity rates in Massachusetts reveal great disparities by race and ethnicity, household income and geography.

Obesity is a risk factor for numerous preventable chronic diseases, from Type 2 diabetes to heart disease, stroke and some cancers.  Obesity-related expenditures cost Massachusetts more than $1.8 billion per year, a figure that will continue to grow unless action is taken now.

Obesity chart

Overweight chart













Spending Mismatch chart
Crisis: A Spending Mismatch


According to the study by NEHI, U.S. health care costs are wildly out of alignment with the actual determinants of health. 

About 50 percent of health status is determined by diet, exercise, smoking, stress and safety—or lifestyle choices and available options; 20 percent by exposure to environmental toxins; 20 percent by genetic predisposition; and just 10 percent by access to health care. 

Yet the vast majority—88 percent—of Americans’ health dollars are spent on access to care and treatment, with just four percent spent on lifestyle options and choices and eight percent on environmental and genetic factors. 

This mismatch results in higher and higher costs for less and less health benefit. 

While many Americans believe that our health care system is the best in the world, the fact is that our health relative to other nations, which spend much less per capita, is slipping, even for survival rates among adults age 45–55.


 




Crisis: Rising Health Care Costs = Fiscal Crowd Out

Fiscal Crowd out chartIn Massachusetts, all public and private spending on health care now exceeds $50.5 billion a year. State spending on health care alone increased by more than 60 percent from 2001 to 2009, in contrast to total state spending, which increased barely more than 20 percent over the same time period. 

The Commonwealth’s Department of Public Health— charged with preventing injury and illness and promoting good health—has experienced deep cuts over the same period, and is now funded at only a little more than a billion dollars annually. 

Recouping even a fraction of the funds spent on unnecessary and wasteful health care, avoidable hospitalization and the management of preventable chronic diseases would free up resources for education, housing, recreation, nutrition, environmental health and the other health determinants that now compete unsuccessfully with health care. 

Massachusetts has managed to extend health insurance coverage to nearly all residents with only modest increases in state funding.



Crisis: The Rise in Preventable Chronic Disease

Type 2 diabetes, once unheard of in children, now represents a significant portion of all diabetes reported in the Commonwealth. Overall, diabetes has jumped by nearly 40 percent in just a decade. Three out of every five people with Type 2 diabetes will develop complications, such as heart disease, stroke or eyesight problems. The rate of avoidable hospitalization for hypertension, or high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, has risen more than 90 percent over the last decade. A Milken Institute study estimated that chronic disease takes a $34 billion toll on the Massachusetts economy every year.

Chronic Disease Prevention chart 1Chronic Disease Prevention chart 2

Obesity charts

Obesity charts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronic Disease Prevention chart 3Chronic Disease Prevention chart 4

 





 

 

 

 

 

 




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Administrative support for the
Healthy People/Healthy Economy Initiative
is provided by the Boston Foundation.

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