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Financial Burden of Parkinson Disease Is $52 Billion, More Than Double Previous Estimates

Wallace Stephens
A new study has found the annual economic burden of Parkinson Disease in the United States is $52 billion, more than double previous estimates.
The financial impact of Parkinson disease (PD) in the United States is more than double previous estimates, The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) announced last week. Findings from a new study estimated the total economic burden to be $51.9 billion annually.

Over 1 million Americans currently live with PD. The new study, The Economic Burden of Parkinson’s Disease, provided a comprehensive assessment of the total costs incurred by patients, care partners, payers, employers, healthcare systems, and government programs. It also examined how the disease affects the personal finances of patients and their ability to work.

"There are a lot of surprise costs when you have Parkinson's," said Steve DeWitte, a PD research funding advocate from New Preston, Connecticut, in a statement. "Beyond the rising costs of medications and healthcare, my family has shouldered the financial burden of my having to leave the workforce 15 years earlier than I had planned. That means our income dropped by more than half, and we've had to figure out how to stretch our budget to cover the everyday household tasks I can no longer physically do."

The study was conducted using multiple data sources publicly available from Medicare, the CDC, and the US Census Bureau, in addition to other survey tools, to fully explain and analyze the cost components of the disease. Of the total estimated financial burden, $25.4 billion resulted from direct medical costs such as hospitalizations and medication, while $26.5 billion was attributed to other expenses that included missed work, lost wages, early forced retirement, and family caregiver time.

"These results provide deep insight into the indirect costs--those costs the people living with Parkinson's and their families must shoulder alone," said Parkinson's Foundation senior vice president and chief scientific officer James Beck, PhD, in a statement. "Knowing this information will allow us to better serve people with Parkinson's and their families in the areas they're most concerned about and where we can have the most impact."

The study also found that the federal government spent about $25 billion each year providing care for individuals with PD. Social Security covered nearly $2 billion of the cost, while Medicare paid another $23 billion, as close to 90% of patients with PD are insured by the program.

"This data will help facilitate a new level of outcome-driven conversations with members of Congress who oversee federal programs that affect the lives of the 1 million people with Parkinson's in the United States," said Todd Sherer, PhD, chief executive officer of MJFF, in a statement. "Investing more in research toward better treatments and a cure will ultimately relieve the burden on already-strained programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security."

The study was commissioned by MJFF, the Parkinson’s Foundation, AbbVie Inc, Acadia Pharmaceuticals, Acorda Therapeutics, Adamas Pharmaceuticals, Biogen Inc, the American Parkinson Disease Association, and The Parkinson Alliance. MJFF stated it will continue to conduct additional analysis to explore how the study’s findings could influence their research policy priorities and future public policy initiatives related to the financial burden of PD.

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