Chronic Care

Acute Versus Chronic Care

The U.S. healthcare system, including Medicare, pays providers to treat patients who are sick or injured rather than to ensure that they remain healthy. It then fails to provide high-quality care designed to treat chronic diseases because of its focus on acute care. Those with chronic illnesses are left with a system that lacks appropriate services and does not addresses all of their needs.


Costs Associated with Chronic Conditions are Growing

The rapid expansion of the country’s aging population threatens to overwhelm society’s ability to provide high quality healthcare for those affected by chronic conditions. The number of individuals with chronic conditions and the cost associated with their care is growing significantly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that six of every 10 Americans have at least one chronic disease – and four of every 10 people have at least two.[1] One report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that 86% of healthcare spending was for these patients in 2010.[2] As our population ages, the number of people with chronic disease and healthcare spending for these individuals is expected to grow. Additionally, it is important to remember that chronic conditions affect both patients and their loved ones. To exemplify one facet of this impact, we note that an estimated 39.8 million Americans provide unpaid assistance and support to adults with disabilities.[3] 

American families must be protected against the catastrophic physical, emotional, and financial burdens that make up a large portion of having a chronic condition. Yet, because our healthcare system has been designed to meet the needs of acute, not chronic illness, our system of services for those with chronic conditions such as Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, depression, anxiety disorders and other diseases and disorders is both fragmented and inadequate.

[1] Accessed February 27, 2019.

[2] Gerteis J, Izrael D, Deitz D, LeRoy L, Ricciardi R, Miller T, Basu J. Multiple Chronic Conditions Chartbook. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2014. Accessed February 27, 2019.

[3] Caregiving in the U.S. National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute. 2015. Accessed February 27, 2019.



The ABC supports the following specific federal initiatives:

  • Effective implementation of mandated healthcare coverage for all US residents, which would enable people with chronic conditions to have increased access to healthcare services and providers.
  • Improved payment for evaluation and management services of patients with chronic conditions, combined with incentives for high quality patient-centered disease management, comprehensive service integration, interdisciplinary care, preventive services and promotion of self-management by patients and caregivers.

 Updated by the American Brain Coalition Advocacy Committee March 2019.

American Brain Coalition

P.O. Box 1549 | Maple Grove, MN 55311 | Phone: (763) 557-2913