Survey reveals ‘most feared’ diseases in U.S.

Amy Higgins

When people are diagnosed with a serious disease they’re likely to ask, “What’s next?” When treatment is an option, those with insurance coverage will probably undergo any procedure a doctor deems necessary. But treatment may not seem as viable an option to Americans without health insurance.

Survey reveals 'most feared' diseases in U.S.
Survey reveals ‘most feared’ diseases in U.S.

The most feared diseases

A February 2011 study conducted by Harris Interactive for MetLife Foundation found that the disease Americans fear most is cancer (41 percent). Thirty-one percent feared Alzheimer’s disease the most. Heart disease and stroke came in at 8 percent each, and 6 percent of those surveyed said they dreaded diabetes the most. The diagnosis of a serious disease is scary and statistics behind some of the most feared diseases are chilling as well.


  • People without health insurance and those with Medicaid are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancer because of their inability to get treatment early on. (American Cancer Society)
  • Cancer accounts for nearly one of every ever deaths in the United States. (American Cancer Society)
  • The estimated overall costs of cancer in 2008 were $228.1 billion. (National Institutes of Health)

Alzheimer’s disease

  • About 5.3 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, and 44 percent of adults have family members or friends with Alzheimer’s. (MetLife Foundation)
  • Between 2010 and 2050, the total costs of care for Americans age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease will increase fivefold, from $172 billion to $1.08 trillion a year. (Alzheimer’s Association)

Heart disease

  • More than 81 million American adults have one or more types of cardiovascular disease, which accounted for one in six hospital stays in 2005. (American Heart Association)
  • The estimated cost of cardiovascular diseases and stroke in the United States in 2009 was $475.3 billion. (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute)


  • Each year about 795,000 Americans suffer a new or repeat stroke. (American Stroke Association)
  • Americans paid about $73.7 billion in 2010 for stroke-related medical costs and disability. (American Stroke Association)


  • A total of 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. (American Diabetes Association)
  • In 2007, the national cost of diabetes in the United States exceeded $174 billion. (American Diabetes Association)
  • About one in 10 health care dollars is spent on diabetes. (American Diabetes Association)

Insuring the uninsurable

About 49.1 million Americans were uninsured between January 2010 and June 2010, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many were unable to obtain health insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions. But as of January 2011, these individuals can receive coverage through a temporary high-risk pool program called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, which was created by the federal government as part of health care reform.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, individuals who would like insurance through this program must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or national or be living lawfully in the United States.
  • Not have had health insurance for the previous six months before applying for coverage.
  • Have a pre-existing medical condition.

Individuals seeking coverage through this plan are required to prove this information by completing an application in its entirety. By paying a monthly premium, eligible members will have all of their preventive care paid for with no deductible when they see in-network doctors, according to the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.

The Pre-Existing Conditional Insurance Plan ends Jan. 1, 2014. That’s when the individual health insurance mandate is scheduled to kick in, enabling all Americans, regardless of health issues, to get insurance.

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