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[Excerpt] Of the $2.8 trillion that the United States has spent on healthcare in recent years, the majority of it (75%) is spent treating chronic disease. Chronic disease is “a long-standing condition that can be controlled but not cured… It is the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S., which is 1.7 million lives each year.” To make matters worse, chronic disease indicators in the U.S. have been on the increase recently. And, even though chronic disease is commonly thought to be more prevalent among the elderly, in the past 10 years, it has increased by 25% among working-age adults. The cost of chronic disease to the U.S. economy far exceeds the money and resources spent to treat it. In fact, a study by the Milken Institute found that the indirect costs of chronic diseases (such as missed days from work) are higher than the direct costs to treat them. Furthermore, a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that these indirect costs are four times higher for individuals with chronic disease than for those without them. Therefore, chronic disease is strongly affecting employers’ increasing healthcare expenditure. A joint study by Tower Watson and the National Business Group on Health found that 67% of employers identified employee’s poor health habits as one of their top three challenges to maintain affordable health coverage.


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Grillo, M. (2014, December 24). Workplace wellness programs: are they part of the answer to the U.S.’s growing healthcare crisis?. Cornell HR Review. Retrieved [insert date] from Cornell University, ILR School site:

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