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Chronic Diseases Drive up Health Care Costs

Chronic diseases are a leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. They are also a significant driver of rising health care costs in the U.S. But making a few positive lifestyle changes can make a big difference in improving health and saving money.

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The American Action Forum defines a chronic disease as a condition that persists for at least one year and requires ongoing medical attention or limits daily activity. These diseases – including conditions such as heart disease, cancer, lung disease, stroke, and diabetes – are a leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. They are also a significant driver of rising health care costs. The prevalence and cost of these conditions have been growing in the U.S. and are expected to continue to grow – even among children and younger adults.

According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health care spending grew 9.7%, reaching more than $4 trillion, in 2020. Americans with five or more chronic conditions make up 12% of our population, but are responsible for 41% of total health care spending. In addition to the direct costs, chronic diseases also impact our country's economy through lost productivity.

Lifestyle factors increase risk

Fortunately, making healthy lifestyle changes can help prevent chronic diseases and lower health care costs. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol use, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and tobacco use, contribute to the development of these conditions.

Making positive changes can improve health and save money. The American Psychological Association offers these tips:

  1. Make a specific, written plan that you believe you can follow. Post it somewhere you will see it often.
  2. Break down your goals into small, manageable steps that can be measured.
  3. Don't try to change too much too fast. Focus on one change at a time.
  4. Enlist the support of a friend, coworker or family member who will take an interest and keep you accountable.
  5. Ask for help. If you are not getting the support you need from friends and family, consider seeing a psychologist. Just a few sessions with a behavioral health professional can jump-start your journey to better health.

Workplace wellness programs can help

Employers can support their employees in making positive lifestyle changes. The Vitality® wellness program, available with the Allstate Benefits Self-Funded Program, encourages members to make lifestyle choices that improve quality of life, increase life expectancy, and reduce health care costs for everyone.

Vitality promotes:

Physical health by providing incentives to build long-term physical activity habits.

Mental health by encouraging sleep and mindfulness habits that improve mental well-being.

Nutrition through educational courses, recipes and assessments designed to improve eating habits.

Good financial practices that can lessen stress-related illnesses.

The Vitality program has proven effective:

  • 90% of members say Vitality has made them more aware of their health.
  • 80% of members say Vitality feels personalized to them.
  • Highly engaged members have 15% to 19.5% lower claims.
  • 66% of members earn points through activities each month.

Contact a sales representative to learn more about how the Vitality wellness program can benefit your employees.

The Self-Funded Program through Allstate Benefits provides tools for employers owning small to mid-sized businesses to establish a self-funded health benefit plan for their employees. The benefit plan is established by the employer and is not an insurance product. Allstate Benefits is a marketing name for: Integon National Insurance Company in CT, NY and VT; Integon Indemnity Corporation in FL; and National Health Insurance Company in CO, WA and all other states where offered. For employers in the Allstate Benefits Self-Funded Program, stop loss insurance is underwritten by these insurance companies in the noted states.

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