The cost of a chronic illness

A chronic illness is a condition that cannot be cured, but can be ‘managed’ with periodic monitoring and medicines. “What is the cost of managing such an illness for life?” Subra suggested that I make a calculator to answer this question.

It is well known that chronic illnesses are on the increase.  Every third or fourth person we know has diabetes (or pre-diabetes) or cardiac issues.  Every second or third person has allergies, asthma, blood pressure, cholesterol or is over-weight (if not obese).

So understanding the costs of managing such ailments is rather important. Perhaps it will serve as a carrot to encourage healthy lifestyles (?). Perhaps it will help us invest right and so that we handle future costs better.

While many chronic illnesses arise because of sedentary lifestyles and improper eating habits, there many conditions which are genetic.

Some are idiopathic.  That is, they occur spontaneously with no rhyme or reason.  I suffer from one.

Just at the time when I had dropped close to 25 Kg of body weight, and felt the fittest in my life, BP  under control, cholesterol under control, I contracted Myasthenia Gravis – an autoimmune disorder.

This severely limits my ability to perform normal duties. Stressful situations (like my mom's recent hospitalization) trigger antibodies to attack my system for no reason.

Though it sounds scary, Myasthenia Gravis is one of the most well understood neurological disorders. So the treatment is well known: taking immunosuppressants, surgery to remove the Thymus gland etc.

Therefore, although I am not fully fit, I am leading a reasonably (given the circumstances) normal life and I am indebted to god for that.

The point here is that Myasthenia is the classic chronic disease, which has to be managed lifelong with medication (western, ayurvedic, whatever helps you sleep at night! Nothing comes free)

Each month, about 15-16% of our monthly expenses are due to Myasthenia medicines.

Assuming that the cost of medication grows at an average annualised rate of 10%, while my non-medical expenses are subject to an average inflation of about 8%, by the time I retire, medical expenses due to Myasthenia alone will account for close to 25% of my total expenses.

Assuming I live up to 90 (God! I hope not!), it will account for more than 35% of my total expenses. I am not even counting other complications I will have along the way!

I would have ended up spending a whopping 832 Lakhs from now to age 90. A good 92% of that amount in retirement!

A good 28% of the retirement corpus I need is because of these medical expenses!

What better reasons can I offer myself to stay fit and avoid complications and hopefully not add to the list of chronics illness I have (BP+myasthenia+ high myopia!)?

Here is the calculator which can be used to get the above information.

  • Use it whether you have a chronic illness or not.
  • Use it especially if you do not have one!  (Get relevant inputs from an ailing friend).
  • Forward it to someone who has such an illness.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Let us do everything possible to stay as fit as possible and hope for the best. Thankfully, since I resolved to lose weight this year, I have successfully shed 4 kg. The challenge lies in ensuring it stays lost! What say you?

Here is a typical graphical output

chronic

Download the Cost of a Chronic Illness Calculator

Do you have a chronic illness (BP/cardiac/asthma/obesity etc.)? If so, I would appreciate your inputs on this tool.

Do forward this link to your contacts who suffer from chronic illnesses.

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63 thoughts on “The cost of a chronic illness

  1. Ramamurthy

    Dear Pattu
    It is really astonishing how in spite of all your medical problems you keep busy writing these inspiring articles.May your attempts at fighting this problem be a great success.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Thank you very much sir. I am incredibly lucky. I got diagnosed early and have supportive family and colleagues. So I am able to manage reasonably.

      Reply
  2. Ramamurthy

    Dear Pattu
    It is really astonishing how in spite of all your medical problems you keep busy writing these inspiring articles.May your attempts at fighting this problem be a great success.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Thank you very much sir. I am incredibly lucky. I got diagnosed early and have supportive family and colleagues. So I am able to manage reasonably.

      Reply
  3. AK Anand

    A very useful calculator Pattu. But very scary too. The amounts required down the years, for chronic illnesses, is really mind boggling. Couldn't agree more with you that the secret may lie in keeping oneself healthy and fit. Weight loss is the first step in this quest for someone who is on the bulky side, a person like me. You seem quite lean from your pic, but well a few kilos down is good for any one. All the best in that effort. Cheers.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Thank you very much, dear AK. I was once quite overweight (~ 92 kgs) now I am down to mid 70-s. As you said, a few more less(!) would certainly do no harm.

      Reply
  4. AK Anand

    A very useful calculator Pattu. But very scary too. The amounts required down the years, for chronic illnesses, is really mind boggling. Couldn't agree more with you that the secret may lie in keeping oneself healthy and fit. Weight loss is the first step in this quest for someone who is on the bulky side, a person like me. You seem quite lean from your pic, but well a few kilos down is good for any one. All the best in that effort. Cheers.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Thank you very much, dear AK. I was once quite overweight (~ 92 kgs) now I am down to mid 70-s. As you said, a few more less(!) would certainly do no harm.

      Reply
  5. pradeep nair

    As said weight loss is one aspect of fitness, there are people who assume fitness is being slim and suddenly they are victim of silent killer disease like BP.
    Another very useful tool, thanks Pattu, and I am sure u will overcome. Best wishes.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Thank you for your wishes, Pradeep. Yes saying fit and hoping for the best is all that we can do.

      Reply
  6. pradeep nair

    As said weight loss is one aspect of fitness, there are people who assume fitness is being slim and suddenly they are victim of silent killer disease like BP.
    Another very useful tool, thanks Pattu, and I am sure u will overcome. Best wishes.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Thank you for your wishes, Pradeep. Yes saying fit and hoping for the best is all that we can do.

      Reply
  7. krishnan

    I'm technically a pre-diabetic but have long realized the need to control weight. The problem comes when you do it initially and then fall off the wagon, thinking "Ha! I've done it!" That's what happened to me since the doctor was amazed that I could lose 8 kg in six months and was just four kilos from my ideal weight. Then lethargy set in and I gained all that weight back. Now, I'm back on the diet-exercise bandwagon. My cost right now is 50 rupees a month for the medication. But it could rise in the years to come if I don't get my act together. For me, one of the best motivators is a visit to a hospital. When I see the number of young people in wheelchairs and the number of old people in various stages of illness, I hasten back to my exercise routine.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Thank you for sharing your story. I agree with you that seeing others fall sick is indeed a great motivator. I have also fallen off the exercise bandwagon quite often. Fortunately I gat back on soon. Do keep visiting and sharing your thoughts.

      Reply
  8. krishnan

    I'm technically a pre-diabetic but have long realized the need to control weight. The problem comes when you do it initially and then fall off the wagon, thinking "Ha! I've done it!" That's what happened to me since the doctor was amazed that I could lose 8 kg in six months and was just four kilos from my ideal weight. Then lethargy set in and I gained all that weight back. Now, I'm back on the diet-exercise bandwagon. My cost right now is 50 rupees a month for the medication. But it could rise in the years to come if I don't get my act together. For me, one of the best motivators is a visit to a hospital. When I see the number of young people in wheelchairs and the number of old people in various stages of illness, I hasten back to my exercise routine.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Thank you for sharing your story. I agree with you that seeing others fall sick is indeed a great motivator. I have also fallen off the exercise bandwagon quite often. Fortunately I gat back on soon. Do keep visiting and sharing your thoughts.

      Reply
  9. bharat shah

    i not only appreciate your this post but also your previous post 'perils of unexpected recurring expenses' after reading your real life story. previously though i know your ailment , but do not have the conscious thought it being recurring expense , and that too consuming some @17% of present expenses. i should apologize my casual comment in that post. you are doing great job unselfishly to us in spite of your medical problems . god bless you and your family.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      No apologies necessary, dear Bharatji. You comment in the last post is indeed well taken. I am a worrying type and must lighten up from time to time! Thank you for your kind blessings.

      Reply
  10. bharat shah

    i not only appreciate your this post but also your previous post 'perils of unexpected recurring expenses' after reading your real life story. previously though i know your ailment , but do not have the conscious thought it being recurring expense , and that too consuming some @17% of present expenses. i should apologize my casual comment in that post. you are doing great job unselfishly to us in spite of your medical problems . god bless you and your family.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      No apologies necessary, dear Bharatji. You comment in the last post is indeed well taken. I am a worrying type and must lighten up from time to time! Thank you for your kind blessings.

      Reply
  11. satish

    dear puttu,
    Really appreciate your efforts, pray to god to give you strenth to fight your challenges..
    do you really mean 832 lakhs(8.32crore) there?

    regards,
    satish

    Reply
  12. satish

    dear puttu,
    Really appreciate your efforts, pray to god to give you strenth to fight your challenges..
    do you really mean 832 lakhs(8.32crore) there?

    regards,
    satish

    Reply
  13. VINAY MAITHANI

    Baap re those figures are mind boggling.
    On another note Pattu ji, there is one DNA test available in Mumbai from certain agency which can predict the probability of one having a critical illness. I think it costs some 15k odd rupees and am not sure i read about it one of your blogs sometime back.
    People can take benefit of it for their satisfaction.
    There is also Section under Income tax act wherein you can claim exemption from tax for money spent on critical illness listed in the act. Guys do correct me if i am wrong.

    Reply
  14. VINAY MAITHANI

    Baap re those figures are mind boggling.
    On another note Pattu ji, there is one DNA test available in Mumbai from certain agency which can predict the probability of one having a critical illness. I think it costs some 15k odd rupees and am not sure i read about it one of your blogs sometime back.
    People can take benefit of it for their satisfaction.
    There is also Section under Income tax act wherein you can claim exemption from tax for money spent on critical illness listed in the act. Guys do correct me if i am wrong.

    Reply
  15. sujatha

    Thanks a lot for this calculator.I have been reading your articles for quite some time.I have bilateral uveitis. Currently my medical expenses are about a lakh per year. I do not have health insurance. I am currently not working. Right now it is being taken care by my father who is a retired central govt employee by the cghs scheme. When I used your calculator for retirement planning the amount required including medical expenses comes above 10 crore rupees. This is excluding any other problem which may arise. Even with cutting down expenses I feel it is difficult to get near the figure. You have assumed 10% as the rate at which the medical costs grow. Somewhere I read it is about 15%.what do you think.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      I am sorry to hear about your illness. I appreciate your sharing this in the blog. Yes it is a tough ask. Inflation in medical services is probably close to 15%. Inflation in medicines will probably be a touch lower due to demand. My wishes and prayers are with you to tackle your illness as best as you can.

      Reply
  16. sujatha

    Thanks a lot for this calculator.I have been reading your articles for quite some time.I have bilateral uveitis. Currently my medical expenses are about a lakh per year. I do not have health insurance. I am currently not working. Right now it is being taken care by my father who is a retired central govt employee by the cghs scheme. When I used your calculator for retirement planning the amount required including medical expenses comes above 10 crore rupees. This is excluding any other problem which may arise. Even with cutting down expenses I feel it is difficult to get near the figure. You have assumed 10% as the rate at which the medical costs grow. Somewhere I read it is about 15%.what do you think.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      I am sorry to hear about your illness. I appreciate your sharing this in the blog. Yes it is a tough ask. Inflation in medical services is probably close to 15%. Inflation in medicines will probably be a touch lower due to demand. My wishes and prayers are with you to tackle your illness as best as you can.

      Reply
  17. Ramamurthy

    Pattu may not agree.But,as long as the illness does not involve prolonged stay in hospital I dont think medical costs will go up to 15%.They may not touch even 10%.The chronic illness require regular drugs.Drug prices in India right now are well under control.My own and my wife have chronic illness. Our medicine bill is fairly same since about the past 5 Years.
    Please dont get scared.Things may not get so gloomy.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      I do agree with you on this count sir! Services are the problem. As long as the drugs don't change, things should be reasonably fine.

      Reply
  18. Ramamurthy

    Pattu may not agree.But,as long as the illness does not involve prolonged stay in hospital I dont think medical costs will go up to 15%.They may not touch even 10%.The chronic illness require regular drugs.Drug prices in India right now are well under control.My own and my wife have chronic illness. Our medicine bill is fairly same since about the past 5 Years.
    Please dont get scared.Things may not get so gloomy.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      I do agree with you on this count sir! Services are the problem. As long as the drugs don't change, things should be reasonably fine.

      Reply
  19. Krishnan

    A daily motivator for me is the sign I have in my bathroom: "Do you want a bed pan under your bum when you grow old? Else, Exercise Now. Yes, Now!"

    Reply
  20. Krishnan

    A daily motivator for me is the sign I have in my bathroom: "Do you want a bed pan under your bum when you grow old? Else, Exercise Now. Yes, Now!"

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Thanks AK. Yes I know. Trouble with MG is that it is an individual disease. So it behaves differently for different people. He is supposedly in remission now. I am hoping for the same too!

      Reply
    1. pattu

      Thanks AK. Yes I know. Trouble with MG is that it is an individual disease. So it behaves differently for different people. He is supposedly in remission now. I am hoping for the same too!

      Reply
  21. AK Anand

    You have dropped 4 kilos Pattu. I hope you increase the dropped amount!! I doubt you can drop it and keep it at that. Very, very difficult. For good, impossible. With the passage of time, you will get complacent, and that would be it. Human tendencies. I talk from experience. As you grow older, and you have provided, you will say "Goddamit! Forget it!!" I had dropped 16 kilos once, and maintained for 4 years. Thereafter, it was let go!!!!! That's the way it probably works. My thoughts, though. If you have greater will power, you may do better.

    Reply

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