Lou Gehrig's Disease - Motor Neuron Disease - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Thought it had been cured by now? Still no known cause. Still no cure. Still quickly fatal. Still outrageous.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

It's Like The Four-Point Swing

We think about the real dollar costs of ALS.

There are the obvious things.
  • The huge medical expenses (with which, thank heavens, Medicare helps)
  • The quickly escalating needs for durable medical equipment
  • Modifications for the home
  • An accessible vehicle
  • And on and on...

There are the less obvious expenses.
  • Therapy for the whole family
  • Gas expenses for the new gas guzzling van
  • Increased food expenses since the caregiver has no time to cook
  • Major health and dental expenses for the caregiver who had no time for preventive care
  • Educational opportunities missed by children who want or need to stay near home to help
  • Paying to have things done that were always diy before the ALS
  • Clothing that functions with ALS
  • And on and on...
There are hundreds of things on the expense side of the equation.

Remember when the basketball coach explained that when you give the ball up on a turnover, you not only lose the two points you were about to score, you also give the other team a chance at two points. Turnovers often result in four-point swings. You have to look at the impact on both ends of the court.

Perhaps with ALS it's time we looked at both sides of the equation. We know there are lots of expenses. We also give up a lot nationally on the income side of the equation.

If a young person has to stop working because of ALS at age 25, suddenly that person's contributions to FICA and Medicare and federal, state, and local income taxes stop. That person's contributions to the GNP stop. Add those up over the course of a normal career, and that's a lot of money.

If a worker in the prime of his or her career at age 40 has to stop working because of ALS, it's quite possible that ALS has stolen at least 25 years of large contributions to all of these programs that keep our social and national defense and other governmental programs running.

ALS is not only an expensive disease on the expense end of the court. It also steals significant productivity and contributions on the income end of the court.

It would be interesting to do the math of the value of the lost income and related taxes of every person diagnosed with ALS over a decade. I suspect that it would be a "wow" number. I suspect that it could make the case for increased national focus on figuring out ALS so that expenses are reduced and at the same time income and productivity are maintained.

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