Medical costs associated with diabetes skyrocket

Sunday, March 2, 2003

March 3, 2003

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The annual cost of diabetes in medical expenditures and lost productivity climbed from $98 billion in 1997 to $132 billion in 2002, according to a study by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) published in the March issue of Diabetes Care.

The direct medical costs of diabetes more than doubled in that time, from $44 billion in 1997 to $91.8 billion in 2002. The study's findings were announced jointly last month by American Diabetes Association (ADA) President Francine R. Kaufman, M.D. and U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson.

" Diabetes continues to be a huge financial burden on patients, their families and society, a burden that continues to grow in parallel with the obesity and diabetes epidemics in this country," Secretary Thompson said. "We must all work to fight this disease that touches so many of our daily lives. Fighting diabetes through research and public education on new treatments and prevention is one of our top priorities at the Department of Health and Human Services."

According to the study, the nation spends $13,243 on each person with diabetes, compared to $2,560 per person for people who don't have diabetes. After adjusting for differences in age, sex, and race/ethnicity between people with and without diabetes, the study found that people with diabetes incur medical expenses that are about 2.4 times higher.

The figures take into account spending by individuals, employers, insurers and government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. No cost estimates were projected for the nearly six million people believed to have diabetes but who have not yet been diagnosed.

" Diabetes imposes a substantial cost burden to society and, in particular, to those individuals with diabetes and their families," Dr. Kaufman said. "Eliminating or reducing the health problems caused by diabetes through factors such as better access to preventive care, more widespread diagnosis, more intensive disease management, and the advent of new medical technologies could significantly improve the quality of life for people with diabetes and their families while at the same time potentially reducing national expenditures for health care services and increasing productivity in the U.S. economy."

The study also found:

* Direct medical expenditures of $91.8 billion included $23.2 billion for diabetes care, $24.6 billion for chronic diabetes-related complications

and $44.1 billion for excess prevalence of general medical conditions.

* Indirect costs resulting from lost workdays, restricted activity days, mortality and permanent disabilities due to diabetes totaled $39.8 billion.

* Cardiovascular disease is the most costly complication of diabetes, accounting for more than $17.6 billion of the $91.8 billion annual direct medical costs for diabetes in 2002.

HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 17 million Americans have diabetes, including many who are unaware of their condition. In addition, an estimated 16 million additional Americans have pre-diabetes and can reduce their risks of developing the disease by losing a modest amount of weight and increasing their activity levels.