US Insights

62.5% of Americans Have a Pre-Existing Condition

Michael Fronstin

General Manager - Kantar Health

Health 10.04.2017 / 12:00


American leads the world in obesity and metabolic diseases

An astonishing 62.5 percent of U.S. adults have been diagnosed with a condition that could be termed "preexisting" for future health services* according to Kantar Health's latest Global Health and Wellness report.

The report also reveals that healthcare spending and longevity do not go hand in hand. The United States ranks first in healthcare spending but seventh in longevity, while Japan and Spain rank first and second in longevity but fourth and eighth in healthcare spending.

The GHWR represents the patient's voice and offers an unfettered, patient-centric view of the true impact of almost 200 health conditions. While the 2017 report indicates that progress has been made in patient care, there’s more work to be done to improve the lives of people suffering with various conditions, as across geographies the rates of diagnosis and treatment vary widely and demonstrate much room for improvement.

US Findings

While U.S. healthcare reform remains in limbo, the manner in which pre-existing conditions will ultimately be dealt with is a key concern for many Americans. The GHWR finds that 152 million Americans (62.5 percent of U.S. adults) have now been diagnosed with a condition that could be termed "preexisting" for future health services.

Furthermore, to combat the sometimes high-costs of treatment, 41 percent of U.S. adults diagnosed with a pre-existing condition report using a cost savings strategy – such as cutting tablets in half, taking less medicine than prescribed, buying fewer pills or buying them less often than directed.

The report also confirms that the United States has the largest obese population at 31.5 percent of adults, which is certainly a key factor for the country having the highest rates of metabolic diseases such as high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, thyroid condition, and type 2 diabetes.

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Finally, the United States has the highest level of strong opioid use, which has led to significant and growing addiction issues, including injecting opioids.

Other findings from the US include:

  • One-third of Americans prefer to treat themselves with an OTC medicine rather than depending on a doctor to prescribe a prescription medicine.
  • Only 23 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with pain conditions, yet pain meds remain among the highest prescribed class in the United States.
  • At 22 percent, Americans 18-34 report the highest amounts of work productivity loss due to impairment from health issues. This group should be the healthiest.
  • About half of Americans 65-plus do not exercise at all.
  • Only 14 percent of Americans 18-34 smoke, one of the lowest rates in decades.
  • 50 percent of Americans say they suffer from respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD, but only 32 percent have been actually diagnosed with these conditions.

EU5, Japan and Emerging Markets

The GHWR finds that the EU5 (France, German, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) is currently facing a variety of challenges given socialized medicine and its impact on the healthcare environment. As access and reimbursement remain a consistent focus for Health Technology Assessments (HTAs), payers and governments across Europe, the unintended consequence is an incremental burden placed on manufacturers and patients. While there are many similarities between Japan and the EU5, the largest difference is that Japan is transitioning to a full scale HTA and requiring effectiveness and economic information.

Additionally, like the EU5, Japan is experiencing an aging population and an increase in national healthcare costs as a percentage of GDP.

Finally, emerging markets have their own challenges related to access and reimbursement. Quantifying the magnitude of disease within major cities versus rural areas remains a challenge, and access to quality healthcare is limited in various parts of emerging market countries.

The GHWR provides unique value in understanding the magnitude of diseases and the impact on people living with them, both within and across countries. Undoubtedly there are areas to improve across the 10 countries evaluated, as levels of diagnosis remain low in some countries, untreated populations are high in others, and societal stigmas are preventing many sufferers from seeking medical care.

However, these factors present opportunities to drive awareness in these undiagnosed and/or untreated populations – such as encouraging patients who are experiencing conditions to seek treatment and educating physicians about the unintended humanistic and economic consequences of not diagnosing or treating appropriately.

Source: Kantar Health

Editor's Notes

For a full copy of Kantar Health's GHWR, please visit

* Conditions include: AIDS/HIV, Alcohol or drug abuse with recent treatment, Alzheimer’s/dementia, Arthritis, Cancer, Congestive heart failure, Coronary artery/heart disease/bypass surgery, Crohn’s disease, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Hemophilia, Hepatitis, Kidney disease/renal failure, Lupus, Mental disorders (including Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Schizophrenia), Multiple sclerosis, Muscular dystrophy, Organ transplant, Parkinson’s disease, Sleep apnea, Stroke, Acid Reflux, Acne, Asthma, C-Section, Heart burn, High cholesterol, Hysterectomy, Migraines, Narcolepsy, Pacemaker, Ulcers.

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