Chronic disease is the public health challenge of the 21st Century
“Reforming California’s health care system will require a paradigm shift from ‘crisis centered care’ to ‘prevention centered care.” -Liz Helms, CCCC Chair
|The definition for a chronic illness is one lasting 3 months or more. (U.S. National Center for Health Statistics)
75% of our health care spending is on people with chronic conditions.3 These persistent conditions — the nation’s leading causes of death and disability — leave in their wake deaths that could have been prevented, lifelong disability, compromised quality of life, and burgeoning health care costs. The facts are arresting:
- 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases.4
- In 2005, 133 million Americans — almost 1 out of every 2 adults — had at least one chronic illness.5
- About one-fourth of people with chronic conditions have one or more daily activity limitations.3
- Health disparities in chronic disease incidence and mortality are widespread among members of racial and ethnic minority populations. For example, heart disease death rates are higher among African Americans than whites,4 and diabetes rates are substantially higher among American Indians and Alaska Natives than whites.6
- Mental illnesses and chronic diseases are closely related. Chronic diseases can exacerbate symptoms of depression, and depressive disorders can themselves lead to chronic diseases.7
The Power of Prevention and Wellness — keep people healthier longer.
Although chronic diseases are among the most common and costly of all health problems, they are also among the most preventable. Chronic disease prevention, to be most effective, must occur in multiple sectors and across individuals’ entire life spans. Prevention encompasses health promotion activities that encourage healthy living and limit the initial onset of chronic diseases. Prevention also embraces early detection efforts, such as screening at-risk populations, as well as strategies for appropriate management of existing diseases and related complications.
People with chronic illnesses or conditions have unique needs, which California’s healthcare financing and delivery systems must more effectively address. With hospital costs accounting for the bulk of healthcare spending in California, one goal of health reform must be to improve the health of Californians with chronic illnesses and conditions, thus reducing hospitalizations, nursing home placement, and associated costs.
- Number of people with a chronic conditions in California is: More than 16 million
- Almost half of all people with chronic conditions have multiple chronic conditions
- 25% of people with a chronic condition have some type of activity limitation
- 46.2% of the population has at least one chronic condition, and this number is projected to increase
- Women are more likely than men to have chronic conditions