Alzheimer’s disease (AD) extracts a heavy societal toll. The value of medical advances that delay onset of AD could be significant. Using data from nationally representative samples from the Health and Retirement Study (1998–2008) and Aging Demographics and Memory Study (2001–2009), we estimate the prevalence and incidence of AD and the formal and informal health care costs associated with it. We use microsimulation to project future prevalence and costs of AD under different treatment scenarios. We find from 2010 to 2050, the number of individuals ages 70+ with AD increases 153%, from 3.6 to 9.1 million, and annual costs increase from $307 billion ($181B formal, $126B informal costs) to $1.5 trillion. 2010 annual per person costs were $71,303 and double by 2050. Medicare and Medicaid are paying 75% of formal costs. Medical advances that delay onset of AD for 5 years result in 41% lower prevalence and 40% lower cost of AD in 2050. For one cohort of older individuals, who would go on to acquire AD, a 5-year delay leads to 2.7 additional life years (about 5 AD-free), slightly higher formal care costs due to longer life but lower informal care costs for a total value of $511,208 per person. We find Medical advances delaying onset of AD generate significant economic and longevity benefits. The findings inform clinicians, policymakers, businesses and the public about the value of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of AD.
All authors had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. None of the authors have any relevant conflicts of interests. The authors’ research in this area was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (5P30AG024968). The funding agency was not involved in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.
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