According to studies, social isolation, AKA loneliness, costs the US government nearly $7B in additional health care costs per year, and most of that number comes from elderly people.
As part of a Health and Retirement Study, AARP took a look at just how much social isolation costs the system.
The government needs people to be happy… for the economy
86% of the survey respondents describe themselves as connected or well-connected, with strong in-person contact with their children, friends, and other family.
But, the study found that the 14% who described themselves as “lonely” suffered more frequently from depression, had more trouble performing basic daily activities like bathing, and were more likely to have at least 5 chronic health problems.
And, all of that gets passed along to Medicare.
On average, Medicare spent an additional $134 per month, or $1.6k per year, on each of these socially isolated individuals ($6.7B a year in spending). The study shows that loneliness costs Medicare more each year than arthritis.
So does loneliness cause health problems or…
Could it be the other way around?
Quartz reports that the study found both to be true, but, while lonely people aren’t necessarily admitted to the hospital more frequently than connected ones, when they are, they stay there longer, and need more expensive treatments.
Fewer than 25% of well-connected patients died within 6 years of the first interview in 2006, while 35% of isolated ones had.