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Cost of diabetes surges upward over five-year period

Thursday March 7, 2013
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The American Diabetes Association has released new research estimating the total costs of diagnosed diabetes to have risen to $245 billion in 2012 from $174 billion in 2007, when the cost last was examined. This figure represents a 41% increase over a five-year period.

The study, "Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2012," was commissioned by the association and addresses the increased financial burden, health resources used and lost productivity associated with diabetes in 2012.

"The cost of diabetes is rising at a rate higher than overall medical costs, with more than one in 10 healthcare dollars in the country being spent directly on diabetes and its complications, and more than one in five healthcare dollars in the U.S. going to the care of people with diagnosed diabetes," Robert Ratner, MD, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association, said in a news release.

Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. with nearly 26 million adults and children living with the disease. An additional 79 million have prediabetes. The total cost includes direct medical costs of $176 billion, which reflects costs for hospital and emergency care, office visits and medications; and indirect medical costs totaling $69 billion, which includes absenteeism, reduced productivity, unemployment caused by diabetes-related disability and lost productivity due to early mortality.

Medical expenditures for people with diabetes are 2.3 times higher than for those without diabetes, according to the study.

"When it comes to the rising cost of diabetes, one of the key factors explaining the increase is that there are many more people now being treated for diabetes in the U.S.," Ratner said. "It is important to note that while treating diabetes is expensive, [the key driver] is the fact that the prevalence of the disease is increasing dramatically. Recent estimates project that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050. These numbers are alarming and further highlight the need for our nation to address this epidemic."

Researchers also examined costs along gender, racial and ethnic lines, and included state-by-state data. Key findings include:

• Most of the cost for diabetes care in the U.S., 62.4%, is provided by government insurance (Medicare, Medicaid and the military). The rest is paid for by private insurance (34.4%) or the uninsured (3.2%).

• Total per-capita health expenditures are higher among women than men ($8,331 vs. $7,458). Total per-capita healthcare expenditures are lower among Hispanics ($5,930) and higher among non-Hispanic blacks ($9,540) than among non-Hispanic whites ($8,101).

• Among states, California has the largest population with diabetes and thus the highest costs, at $27.6 billion.

The findings were released at a press conference on Capitol Hill in conjunction with the associationís premier advocacy event, Call to Congress, where more than 200 diabetes advocates from across the nation meet with legislators to educate them about the diabetes epidemic and help make diabetes a national priority.

The complete study will be published in the April issue of Diabetes Care. A PDF of the online version of the study is available at http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2013/03/05/dc12-2625.abstract.


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