About Chronic Conditions


Q. What is a chronic condition?

A chronic disease, as defined by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, is a disease lasting three months or longer. About 40 million Americans are limited in their usual activities due to one or more chronic health conditions.(1)

Q. How many people are affected by chronic conditions?

Generally incurable and ongoing, chronic diseases affect approximately 133 million Americans, representing more than 40% of the total population of this country.(2) By 2020, that number is projected to grow to an estimated 157 million, with 81 million having multiple conditions.(3)

About half of all adults have a chronic condition, and approximately 8 percent of children ages 5 to 17 were reported by their parents to have limited activities due to at least one chronic disease or disability.(45)

More and more people are living with not just one chronic illness, such as diabetes, heart disease or depression, but with two or more conditions. Almost a third of the population is now living with multiple chronic conditions.(6)

In 2009, 7 out of 10 deaths in the U.S. are due to chronic diseases. Heart disease, cancer and stroke account for more than half of all deaths each year.(7) According to the New England Journal of Medicine, people with chronic conditions receive only 56% of recommended preventive health care services.(8)

Q. What is the economic impact of chronic diseases?

Eighty-six cents of every dollar spent on health care goes to treating people with a chronic condition. For each additional chronic condition a person has, his or her medical costs increase by more than $2,000 a year on average.(9)

Four of the five most expensive health conditions (based on total health care spending in a given year in the United States) are chronic conditions – heart disease, cancer, mental disorders, and pulmonary conditions.(10)

A 2007 study reported that seven chronic diseases – cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary conditions, and mental illness – have a total impact on the economy of $1.3 trillion annually. By the year 2023, this number is projected to increase to $4.2 trillion in treatment costs and lost economic output.(11)

Rev: 03/21/2016


1. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_259.pdf

2. http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/pdf/2009-Power-of-Prevention.pdf

3. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(09)60048-9/fulltext

4. http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/

5. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus07.pdf

6. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/prevention-chronic-care/decision/mcc/mccchartbook.pdf

7. http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/AAG/chronic.htm

8. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa022615

9. http://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/professionals/prevention-chronic-care/decision/mcc/mccchartbook.pdf

10. http://www.ahrq.gov/research/ria19/expendria.htm

11. http://www.milkeninstitute.org/pdf/ES_ResearchFindings.pdf