LYMEPOLICYWONK: Annual Lyme costs now top $3.1 billion—It’s time to wake up!
The CDC is likely to officially update its cost estimates for Lyme disease based on the new case numbers, but in the meantime, I’ve pulled together some rough estimates. The annual cost of Lyme disease in the US in 2002 was estimated at $203 million by Dr. Zhang of the CDC. Today the annual cost is likely to exceed $3.1 Billion. The increased cost reflects the CDC revision of case numbers from 30,000 to 300,000 and adjustments for inflation. The average cost of Lyme disease in 2002 was $8,712, which would be $10,343 in today’s dollars. According to Zhang’s study, the later we intervene with the disease, the higher the costs. In today’s dollars the societal cost of Lyme when addressed at tick bite is $400. If we wait until early Lyme disease, the cost increases 4-fold to $1,658. By the time, we are dealing with late Lyme, the cost is through the roof– $20,502.
The annual cost of Lyme disease in the US in 2002 was estimated at $203 million by Dr. Zhang of the CDC. Today the annual cost is likely to exceed $3.1 Billion. The increased cost reflects the CDC revision of case numbers from 30,000 to 300,000 and adjustments for inflation.
The average cost of Lyme disease in 2002 was $8,712, which would be $10, 343 in today’s dollars. According to Zhang’s study, the later we intervene with the disease, the higher the costs. In today’s dollars the societal cost of Lyme when addressed at tick bite is $400. If we wait until early Lyme disease, the cost increases 4-fold to $1,658. By the time, we are dealing with late Lyme, the cost is through the roof– $20,502.
In late Lyme, only 14% of these costs are medical costs, the remaining 86% are due to indirect medical costs, nonmedical costs, and loss of productivity. As Dr. Cameron explained in his 2010 article, the cost of treating this disease is peanuts compared to the cost of denial. Denial of care merely shifts the burden of the disease from the insurer to the family, caretakers, and ultimately the government through lost tax revenues as people become less productive and lose their jobs.
Zhang’s estimate of annual costs was based on 23,763 cases in 2002 multiplied by the average cost of Lyme disease, which, at that time was estimated to be $8,172 in 2002 dollars. The CDC now estimates the number of annual cases to be 300,000. Using the inflation adjusted average case cost of $10,343, the total cost of Lyme disease now tops $3.1 Billion.
When I spoke at the Gibson forum in New York last year, I pointed out that it was time to recognize that our “do nothing” policy in Lyme disease was a failure. We don’t treat the bite aggressively, we don’t diagnose and treat to cure in early disease, and we aren’t funding research into effective treatments for late disease. How many ways can we fail? And for how long? It’s time to wake up and address the problem.
A hard copy of this post to share with legislators and other policy makers can be downloaded. Annual Lyme costs top $3.1 billion 11.5.13
The LYME POLICY WONK blog is written by Lorraine Johnson, JD, MBA, who is the Chief Executive Officer of LymeDisease.org, formerly CALDA. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter, follow me @lymepolicywonk.
Cameron, D. Proof That Chronic Lyme Disease Exists
Zhang X, Meltzer MI, Pena CA, Hopkins AB, Wroth L, Fix AD. Economic impact of Lyme disease. Emerging infectious diseases. 2006 Apr;12(4):653-60.
LYMEPOLICYWONK: THE COST OF DENIAL—THE DOLLARS AND SENSE OF IT
“The Financial Burden of Lyme Disease” Presentation at Gibson Forum
- November 5, 2013 at 1:48 pm
3.1 BILLION DOLLARS and still CLIMBING! Such a shame, especially when you consider a handful of doxycycline after a tick bite could save someone from becoming chronically ill, disabled and even prevent deaths. You have to wonder why insurers and others are not promoting early treatment and instead are delaying and denying their citizens to death. People who are already sick & suffering, and those who will become sick, are STILL (after three decades of massive failures) being forced to wait for that infamous handful of do-nothing, know-nothing money grubbing stakeholders to appear in public with solid answers and not just a reincarnation of the old Lyme vaccine that, as the last one proved, will be useless, possibly harmful and fail those who need help. Thank you, Ms. Johnson, for your continuing efforts to help others and save lives.
- November 25, 2013 at 2:15 pm
The annual out-of-pocket cost for treating our 14 year old daughter, who has been chronically ill for over 3 years by tick-borne diseases, is $18,000+ per year just from our pocketbook. Many of the medical expenses are not covered by insurance. However, even those that are covered (visits to PCP, some medicines and some labs/other medical testing) still add up to a substantial annual amount paid by our insurance company. On top of that there is the annual cost paid by our school district who must send a teacher to our home daily because our daughter is too ill to attend school. Then add in the loss of productivity by us, her parents, for lost time at work while attending to our sick child and taking her to 2-3 medical appointments each week. Easily the overall costs are $50,000 per year just for our child. I believe the annual projections are conservative and likely costs associated with late-stage Lyme are much higher than projected.
- February 3, 2015 at 10:41 am
Somebody is listening… T2 is a fantastic company run by a lot of very smart people..
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