"Imaginary" Illness Costs U.S. Billions Each Year

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a disease whose very existance has been doubted by many practitioners for some time, is finally getting the attention it deserves. Why? CFS costs the United States over $9 billion each year in lost productivity according to the CDC. This estimate, which is similar to the financial losses caused by digestive system disorders or infectious and parasitic diseases, does not even include health care costs, which are likely to be substantial. The annual total value of lost productivity was estimated at about $20,000 per person with CFS. This loss was the result of a 37 percent decline in household productivity and a 54 percent reduction in labor force productivity among people with the syndrome. When translated to the entire affected U.S. population--around 450,000 individuals in total--the losses become even more substantial.

Plus, researchers say this could well be an underestimate of the total cost because those who were temporarily in remission or who had recovered from CFS were not taken into account. The good news is that CFS if finally being recognized as a real problem and not an imaginary illness. Let's just hope that the drug companies don't come up with a pill to fix this one, which can typically be effectively treated with dietary, emotional and lifestyle changes.

Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation June 2004 21;2(1):4

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