Cost of COPD is $36 Billion in the USA

The American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) announced the Online First publication of Total and State-Specific Medical and Absenteeism Costs of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, COPD,  Among Adults Aged 18 Years in the United States for 2010 and Projections Through 2020 in the journal CHEST.

The report, presented by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), finds:

  • In 2010, the total national medical costs attributable to COPD were estimated at $32.1 billion dollars annually.
  • Absenteeism costs were $3.9 billion for a total burden of $36 billion in COPD-attributable costs.
  • An estimated 16.4 million days of work were lost due to COPD each year.
  • Of the medical cost, 18% was paid for by private insurance, 51% by Medicare, and 25% by Medicaid.
  • The study also projects a rise in medical costs from $32.1 billion in 2010 to $49 billion by 2020.

Chronic lower respiratory diseases, including COPD, are the third-leading cause of death in the United States. COPD claimed the lives of 134,676 people in 2010. In 2011, 12.7 million US adults were estimated to have COPD.

However, close to 24 million US adults have evidence of impaired lung function, indicating an under-diagnosis of COPD. Smoking is a primary risk factor of COPD, and approximately 80% of COPD deaths can be attributed to smoking.

“Evidence-based interventions that prevent and reduce tobacco use and reduce clinical complications of COPD may result in potential decreased COPD-attributable costs,” said Earl Ford, MD, MPH, Division of Population Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report also offers state-by-state data.

“For the first time, our analyses provide state-specific costs for COPD, which provide state public health practitioners with estimates of the economic burden of COPD within their borders and illustrates the potential medical and absenteeism costs savings to states through implementing state level programs that are designed to prevent the onset of COPD,” says Earl Ford, MD, researcher with the Division of Population Health, CDC.

The full study can be found in the Online First section of CHEST.

80% of COPD deaths can be attributed to smoking?  It’s time to get your patients to stop smoking if they haven’t already.  As an aid to smoking cessation, a Breath CO monitor can be used as a motivational and educational tool.  Self-reported smoking status has been shown to be unreliable and a CO monitor replaces this. 

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Patient using SmokeCheck and smoking cessation tool to measure the effects of an anti smoking program

For more information about how you can help your patients with their treatment plan and get them to stop smoking once and for all, join our family of Smoking Cessation products today, at

Irving, J. (1988). “Evaluation of a Portable Measure of Expired-Air Carbon Monoxide”. Preventive Medicine 17: 109–115.

Earl S. Ford, MD, MPH; Louise B. Murphy, PhD; Olga Khavjou, MA; Wayne H. Giles, MD, MS; James B. Holt, PhD; Janet B. Croft, PhD

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