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Friday April 26, 2019

The high cost of vaccine-preventable disease -- including measles

Christmas

The number of measles cases just so far in 2019 has eclipsed the total for 2014 -- which is the highest in the nation since measles was declared eradicated in the United States in 2000.

These is maddening news for a disease that is so effectively controlled through vaccination.

The many outbreaks around the nation not only take a toll on health, but also are costly -- not just to the people who fall ill and their families, but to you the taxpayer and you the buyer of health insurance. When measles cases rise, public health agencies and other government organizations must go on red alert, working plenty of overtime. 

And when people need medical attention, the price of providing that treatment is spread later on to the pool of insurance purchasers.

For public health services alone, the outbreak of a few dozen people in Washington state has cost more than $750,000.

But that's peanuts compared with the overall cost of vaccine-preventable disease, according to a study publised in gthe journal Health Affairs in 2016. The true number rises into the billions of dollars.

As reported by Yahoo Finance:

In the past decade, there has been a measles outbreak each year, resulting in 2,423 cases — and counting. In 2013, the CDC estimated that the cost of hospitalization for measles was between $4,032 and $46,060 per person. At the low end, this would mean that since 2010, roughly $9.7 million was spent on treating measles. At the high end, the cost balloons to $111.6 million.

And measles isn’t the only preventable disease burdening the health care system. According to a 2015 study from UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, “vaccine-preventable diseases among adults cost the U.S. economy $8.95 billion — and unvaccinated individuals are responsible for 80%, or $7.1 billion, of the tab.” The report highlights that the biggest money drag is the flu (influenza), costing some $5.8 billion in 2015 alone. Pneumococcal disease and herpes zoster (which causes shingles) are the next two most costly vaccine-preventable diseases with price tags of $1.8 billion and $782 million, respectively.

But Sachiko Ozawa, the study’s author and Associate Professor at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, says that in reality, the number is even higher. Her report only looked at adults, and didn’t consider children — or societal costs in the long run.

It also, obviously, didn't include the high cost of measles outbreaks that have occurred in receent months.

Want to stem the rise in health care costs and reduce government spending? Vaccinate.

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