Why Chronic Conditions Matter to Everyone in Michigan

Ashley Hennen

| 3 min read

When we’re relatively healthy, we don’t always give a lot of thought to what it might be like to live with a chronic health condition, or what impact the health of our communities have on our own lives. Using data from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation came out with a study that sheds light on just how much chronic conditions are impacting health care spending in Michigan. The CHRT study focused on five chronic conditions specifically: coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression and diabetes. What they found was striking:
  • 16% of the BCBSM population had at least one these chronic conditions, which accounted for 47% of total BCBSM spending.
  • Average annual health care spending for someone with one of these conditions ranged from $13,801 (for an individual with diabetes) to $47,412 (for an individual with congestive heart failure). To compare, the average health care spending for someone without these chronic conditions hovered at $3,443.
These numbers are already significant, but over the next few years, the Center for Disease Control expects health care spending to rise considerably.

What’s at the root of this problem?

This study found that there are two major risks that contribute to these chronic illnesses: smoking and obesity. Michigan has higher levels of both compared to the national average and this makes a huge difference in the health of Michiganders and the amount we’re spending on health care in this state.

What is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan doing about this?

This research suggests that targeted obesity prevention programs can be very effective in helping people lose weight and make lifestyle changes around exercise and diet. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has spurred a range of initiatives to help children and adults across the state lose weight and keep a healthy diet. In regards to smoking, many Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network plans offer a Quit the Nic program to help members successfully quit smoking or using tobacco. It’s a 12-month program that includes unlimited phone calls to your personal health coach and a customized plan for quitting. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan also collaborates with more than 4,000 primary care physicians across the state on the Patient-Centered Medical Home program, which uses care teams to focus on each patients’ health and wellness needs, including diet and exercise, smoking cessation, and managing chronic conditions. “BCBSM’s partnership with Michigan primary care physicians and Physician Organizations has created the largest regional Patient Centered Medical Home program in the country, and together we are making great strides toward improving the health and well-being of Michigan’s citizens,”says Jean Malouin, MD, assistant medical director. By working with policy makers and community members alike while offering resources to help Michiganders get healthy, Blue Cross hopes to reduce the prevalence of smoking and obesity. When Michigan can limit the rise of chronic conditions brought on by lifestyle choices, we can also stem the rising cost of health care spending. Photo credit: Congvo
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association