Overall, healthcare costs are on the rise; however the increase in some areas are front-runners. According to a new study. One of the front-runners is care for autism spectrum disorder. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have reported that they have calculated for the first time the total costs of caring for individuals with autism spectrum disorder in the US today and 10 years in the future. They published their findings online on July 28 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
The authors make an alarming prediction of the future healthcare costs for autism care and treatment. They calculated the autism-related medical costs, nonmedical costs, and loss of productivity to be $268 billion for 2015; those costs for 2025 are predicted to be $461 billion. In addition, the researchers projected that, if the number of autism cases continues to soar at the same rate it has in recent years, those costs could reach $1 trillion within a decade.
“The current costs of ASD are more than double the combined costs of stroke and hypertension, and on a par with the costs of diabetes,” explained senior author Paul Leigh, PhD, a professor of public health sciences and researcher with the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research at UC Davis, in a news release. He added, “There should be at least as much public, research and government attention to finding the causes and best treatments for ASD as there is for these other major diseases.”
For the study, the researchers reviewed data from various sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other medical research to determine the per-person total costs of autism spectrum disorder. The total costs included residential care, special education, medical services, in-home care, employment support, transportation, and lost productivity.
The estimates for the overall costs of autism spectrum disorder ranged from $162 billion to $367 billion for 2015, with a best estimate of $26 billion, and from $276 to $1 trillion, with a best estimate of $461 billion for 2025. The authors noted that diabetes costs are comparable to the 2015 figures, and that the estimated 2025 figures, which may exceed those of diabetes by 2025 if recent trends in autism prevalence continue, will exceed the combined costs of stroke and hypertension. The researchers recommended that, to reduce those statistics, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should invest a comparable amount of research dollars for autism as it does for diabetes. The NIH currently spends more than five times as much researching diabetes as it does on autism.