PBA Study Estimates $139 Billion Annual Cost for Eye and Vision Disorders
June 18, 2013
National Opinion Research Center/University of Chicago Research Scientist John Wittenborn presents the PBA study results at the June 18 Focus on Eye Health National Summit
The $139 billion total annual cost consists of the following components:
- $72.2 billion, reflecting the cost of vision problems outside direct healthcare expenses, including lost productivity and long-term care costs.
- $47.4 billion, reflecting the costs to government and taxpayers, including direct medical costs and long-term care. The authors note that the government pays more for direct medical costs than private insurance, largely due to the Medicare-aged population 65 and older. Among those aged 65 and older, government accounts for nearly half of the total burden due to an increase in medical and long-term care expenditures by government for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in this age group.
- $20.8 billion, reflecting the cost to private health care companies.
A previous PBA report entitled The Economic Impact of Vision Problems released in 2007 reported the annual costs of adult vision and blindness at $51.4 billion. The 2013 report has addressed several limitations in the previous study, for example:
- Including costs associated with individuals younger than 40 years old;
- Including costs associated with all vision disorders, not just age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma;
- Using a more robust means of calculating medical costs;
- Including ancillary medical costs; and
- Using updated data (2004 and later) versus that from the late 1990s.
NAEVRs James Jorkasky attended the June 17 Congressional Briefing at which NORC Research Scientist John Wittenborn provided top-line results, as well as the June 18 Focus on Eye Health National Summit at which detailed results were presented. Reacting to the study Jorkasky commented, The data presented today in PBAs report are dramatic and game-changing, especially due to the robust nature of the analyses. These results will be especially useful in the public policy arena since they quantify what NAEVR has stated qualitatively in testimony before Congress—that the NEI is facing a significant challenge with the aging of the population and the increased risk of eye disease. It is ironic that these significantly greater cost estimates come at a time when the NEI budget has been cut by $40 million from the previous fiscal year due to the sequester.
The June 30 edition of USA Today had a story about the PBA report.