(HealthDay News) — Medical costs for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the United States are more than $32 billion each year, according to new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The yearly financial toll of COPD is expected to reach an estimated $49 billion by 2020. The findings were published online July 24 in CHEST.

Medical costs associated with COPD were primarily paid for by Medicare. The CDC found Medicare covered 51%, while Medicaid paid for 25% and private insurance covered 18% of these costs. COPD forced Americans to miss an estimated 16.4 million days of work, resulting in additional costs of nearly $4 billion, the CDC found.

Roughly 80% of COPD-related deaths are due to smoking. In 2010, the condition claimed almost 135,000 lives in the United States. The following year, it was estimated that nearly 13 million adults in the United States have COPD. Since nearly 24 million adults show signs of impaired lung function, researchers believe that COPD remains under-diagnosed.

“For the first time, our analyses provide state-specific costs for COPD, which provide state public health practitioners with estimates of the economic burden of COPD within their borders and illustrates the potential medical and absenteeism costs savings to states through implementing state-level programs that are designed to prevent the onset of COPD,” Earl Ford, MD, MPH, of the CDC’s division of population health, said in a journal news release.

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