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 U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that 70 percent of those who reach the age of 65 will require some form of long-term care, 88 percent of those over age 75 will have one chronic condition, and 70 percent will have more than one.

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, and other disorders is both fragmented and inadequate.

Chronic Conditions Affect Most Americans

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), an estimated 44 million Americans provide unpaid assistance and support to adults with disabilities. Given these factors, and that people are living longer and the number of older adults is increasing, too many Americans families are seriously impacted by chronic conditions.



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 October 2015.

American Brain Coalition

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