insurance

The cost of chronic disease

Cancer
Cancer © Anneka/Shutterstock.com

Financial costs related to cancer topped an estimated $201.5 billion in 2008, the most recent year the National Institutes of Health tracked those figures. Direct medical spending accounted for $77.4 billion, while lost productivity because of premature death cost $124 billion.

For some groups, such as those lacking adequate insurance coverage, cancer is even more costly. The American Cancer Society reports that the uninsured and ethnic minorities are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages when treatment can be both more extensive and expensive.

Cost-saving health tips: Shun smoking and keep alcohol consumption moderate. A host of cancers are linked to smoking and excessive drinking, according to the CDC. Apart from causing about 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and nearly 80 percent in women, smoking causes cancer of the larynx, mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, cervix and stomach, as well as acute myeloid leukemia. Alcoholism can lead to cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon and breast.

Bauer notes that eating less red meat and more fruits and vegetables helps reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Screening tests, such as colonoscopies, mammograms and Pap tests, have saved lives and money by detecting cancer and precancerous cells early.

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