CDC has been espousing the number $9B a year in economic losses due to CFS. Dr. Leonard Jason, CFS expert, proposes the true number is more than double that estimate.
Is Anyone Out There Listening? The Economic Costs of CFS.
Leonard Jason, L. Valentine, S. Torres-Harding, A. Johnson, M. Benton, N. Porter.
The economic impact of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in a community based versus a tertiary sample.
We already have an assessment of the indirect costs of CFS - those caused by unemployment, disability, etc. - to the U.S. economy. They came out to a hefty 9.1 billion, yes BILLION dollars a year.
Now Dr. Jason, with his study on the direct costs of CFS - medical costs - is able to give us, for the first time, an estimate of the total annual losses to the U.S. economy from CFS.
These costs are, of course, heavily affected by estimates of CFS prevalence. Dr. Jason's history of prevalence estimates was quite instructive; they started out absurdly low with early estimates suggesting about 20,000 CFS patients in the U.S. Jason's small early 1990s community based study bumped that up significantly (400,000), and his replication of that study doubled it again (800,000). The late 1990s CDC Wichita study confirmed Jason's estimates (800,000-1,000,000) and Jason used 880,000 as the basis for economic cost calculations.
With the direct economic costs added, Jason estimates that CFS costs the U.S. economy a whopping 19-25 billion dollars a year. This is about double the amount that prompted the Japanese government to sponsor a large CFS research program.
These numbers suggest that if the Department of Health and Human Services woke up it would at the very least realize that investing in CFS research makes economic sense and would start funding CFS like the substantial health issue it is. Somebody in the DHHS, after all, wants to know how damaging this disease is - they sponsored the first economic loss estimate (via the CDC) and must have paid for this one too - now if only they would act on it.
With the CDC program winding down and the NIH research program essentially moribund, DHHS spending on CFS could be as low as $10,000,000 - or about what it commits to several very (very) rare genetic diseases.
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$10M -- that's $10 per patient. Big deal.
The Social Security taxes alone on even the erroneous $9B figure (much less the more accurate $25B number) exceed that expenditure by orders of magnitude. Add in the income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, etc. that could be paid by returning that million patients to work, and the return on investment is incredible.
Yet, even now that privately-funded researchers are closing in on the biological factors of this disease, the US government refuses to fund a full-scale push to tie these loose ends together. They'd rather leave a million people sick and draining the economy than spend even 1% of the annual cost looking for a treatment/cure.
Want to know why? Read "Osler's Web" by Hillary Johnson. You'll learn exactly why the government doesn't want to find the biological underpinnings of this disease, doesn't want to admit there's a virus at the base of it, wants to pin it all on "stress". The answer is simple, and self-serving. It's all tied up in egos and arrogance.