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Will a new Alzheimer's treatment save Medicaid money?

We all know that as we age, our risk of developing serious degenerative diseases increases with each passing year. It's because of this fact that it is considered a good idea by many to make plans for the added expense of doctors' bills and medical treatments. For many, this means saving early and allocating these funds at a specific time using a properly managed estate plan.

For others, it means making sure that they are eligible for financial assistance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, which can offset or even cover medical expenses accrued during the treatment of degenerative diseases. Alzheimer's, which is a degenerative disease that costs Americans millions of dollars every year in medical costs, is one such disease that is offset by Medicaid and Medicare.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, if current trends continue, then roughly 13.5 million people in the United States will develop Alzheimer's by 2050. The association estimates that in that year alone, the U.S. could pay out more than $1 trillion in long-term care costs. Although this may seem alarming, the association says that there is something we can do in the meantime that could prevent this scenario from becoming a reality.

As the association explained in a new report, if researchers had the necessary funding, they might be able to create a new drug treatment for Alzheimer's that could save the nation $935 billion over 10 years. Their prediction model assumes that the treatment would "delay the onset of dementia for five years" and that the current rate of diagnosis for the disease continues in the same fashion over the course of the next decade.

Unfortunately, as some experts have pointed out, the Alzheimer's Association's report does not take into account how much this new treatment would cost, meaning its projected numbers could be giving people a false impression of savings when it may not exist. Truth is, some experts explain, it's impossible to say how much a new treatment will cost down the road. All people can do now is to save wisely, always planning for the worst, but hoping for the best in the end.

Source: Forbes, "How Much Money Would An Alzheimer's Treatment Really Save?" Howard Gleckman, Feb. 11, 2015

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