Adjust Text Size:change font sizechange font sizechange font sizechange font sizechange font sizechange font size

Access to the latest research — for scientists and people living with PD alike — in PDF's new scientific journal.

Browse Now

Parkinson's HelpLine


Learn More

Science News

Dollar Cost of Parkinsonís Underscores Need for Research

A study published online February 21 in Movement Disorders estimates the economic burden of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is at least $14.4 billion a year in the United States. It cites increased medical expenses and reduced employment as the main contributors. PD is most common in people over the age of 60, and its economic burden, defined as the overall dollar cost of PD each year, is expected to rise substantially as more and more baby-boomers pass this birthday.

To estimate the current and future economic burden of PD in the US, researchers led by Stacey L. Kowal, M.Sc., at IHS Global, Inc., first estimated how many people had a PD diagnosis. To do so, they consulted six nationally representative surveys on health care, and statistics on hospital visits (inpatient, outpatient and emergency), doctor visits, nursing home care, home health aides, prescriptions and other medical equipment and supplies. They also accounted for nonmedical costs of living with PD. These included income loss from reduced work schedules or loss of a job, for both people with PD and their care partners; cost of long-distance travel to see a neurologist or movement disorder specialist; cost of home modifications; and the cost of paid help such as personal care aides.


  • Based on previously published data, the report estimated that approximately 630,000 people in the United States had a diagnosis of PD in 2010.
  • It estimates that the number of people living with PD will double by 2040.
  • Nationally, the report estimates the economic burden of PD, including both medical and nonmedical costs, at more than $14.4 billion in 2010, or $22,800 per person on average.
  • The report estimates the burden of only disease-related medical expenses (not accounting for reduced employment, etc.) for people with PD at $8.1 billion total, or $12,800 per person.
  • The report estimates that the burden of non-medical costs added $6.3 billion to the economic burden of PD, or close to $10,000 per person living with PD.
  • 15 percent of people with PD were living in nursing homes, as compared to nine percent of all residents aged 75-84.
  • Nursing home care accounted for more than $5 billion of PD-related medical costs; overall, people with PD were more than ten times as likely than people who did not have PD to live in a nursing home.

What Does It Mean?

This study confirms that Parkinson’s disease puts a significant economic burden on people living with PD, their families and society. This emphasizes the need for research to more effectively treat and eventually stop Parkinson’s disease.

It is important to note that the study bases its economic projections on an estimate that 630,000 people are living with PD. But this number is under debate with estimates ranging from 500,000 to one million. In fact, PDF estimates that as many as one million Americans live with PD. The authors of the new study acknowledge that their figure is on the low end of the spectrum.

To get to this estimate and other results, the researchers had to rely on data collected from surveys of different-sized populations, taken with somewhat different methods.  And the new results can only be as accurate as the original data. For example, a diagnosis of PD was determined by the three-digit code used by insurers; since PD is not diagnosed with 100 percent accuracy, this is a potential limitation.

That said, the report illuminatea the enormous expenses associated with PD now, and in the coming decades.  This burden underscores the need for additional research in the field, including a database that tracks healthcare use and costs for people with PD (a registry). It also emphasizes that the cost of research focusing on slowing disease progression, which may postpone nursing home placement, and the cost of research focusing on preventing disease in populations at risk, should be viewed in light of these expenses. While it may be potentially expensive, slowing down and hopefully preventing PD may save billions of dollars.

Learn More

In light of this news, PDF's Executive Director Robin Elliott has posted a blog, discussing implications of this study on the PD community. In addition, the community of Parkinson's organizations have put together key findings via the Parkinson's Action Network.

Read Robin's Blog

See Key Findings


Your gift can help to support research to improve the lives and futures of people touched by Parkinson's. PDF is a 501(c)(3) organization and all gifts are tax deductible.
Donate Now

Source Date: Mar 12 2013