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Burden of Alzheimer's Disease Triples Health Costs

Millions of elderly people with dementia add to burden on Medicare and Medicaid

TUESDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- People aged 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia make Medicare and Medicaid claims that are three times higher than those of their counterparts without the condition, according to a report, 2009 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, released March 24 by the Alzheimer's Association.

According to 2004 data, the high usage of health care and long-term care services by Alzheimer's disease and dementia patients resulted in average per-person Medicare, Medicaid and other payments of $33,007 a year versus $10,603 for those with no dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

There are 5.3 million people in the United States with Alzheimer's disease, and they also often have comorbid conditions such as diabetes or coronary heart disease, the report states. The costs of these diseases are inflated by the medical management challenges posed by Alzheimer's disease.

"With the country facing unprecedented economic challenges and a rapidly aging baby boomer population, now is the time to address the burgeoning Alzheimer crisis," Harry Johns, chief executive officer of the Alzheimer's Association, said in a release. "A strategy to immediately confront Alzheimer's has the potential to save millions of lives and billions of dollars by reducing the burden on Medicare and Medicaid."

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