The Minnesota Department of Health report also found that the 35 percent of insured Minnesotans with chronic illnesses accounted for 83 percent of total medical spending in 2012.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune said: “While it’s no surprise that sick people require more medical care, state officials said the first-of-its-kind analysis is needed to spur health reforms that prevent Minnesotans from developing chronic conditions in the first place and stop those with the conditions from getting worse.”

“We cannot afford to treat our way out of this crisis,” said Health Commissioner  Ed Ehlinger, M.D. “We must more strongly focus on preventing chronic disease or delaying its progression by investing in healthier communities, public health and primary care.”

The paper reported that “Chronically ill patients cost the health care system $12,800 per year, on average, compared with $1,600 per year for healthy people, according to the analysis, which was based on private and public medical claims paid in 2012. The total bill for treating insured Minnesotans with chronic diseases that year was $22.7 billion.”

The Star-Tribune said: “While chronic disease rates remain lower in Minnesota than the national average, the study revealed a surprising share of medical spending on these conditions, said Stefan Gildemeister, state health economist. ‘We would have expected Minnesota to be maybe in a little bit healthier place. Turns out that’s not entirely the case.”’

“Clinic leaders welcomed the findings, which they hope will encourage payment reforms that reward the extra efforts necessary to support chronically ill patients with their medications and the dietary and fitness recommendations they take home,” the paper said.