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The Cost of Diabetes Healthcare: Crunching the Numbers

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The Cost of Diabetes Healthcare

The Cost of Diabetes Healthcare: Crunching the Numbers

September 11, 2008


By: Laurie Edwards for Diabetes1


Any time you have a health condition you can expect to have a fair amount of expenses. When you have a disease like diabetes, which has the potential to affect multiple body systems and often requires daily medical therapy, the health care costs add up quickly. In fact, the American Diabetes Association reports that in the United States, 1 out of every 10 health care dollars is spent on diabetes.

Take Action
  • Think ahead. Regular screening for eye, renal and cardiovascular complications can prevent problems before they get serious (and costly).
  • Tailor your supplies. If you are insulin-dependent, consult with your physician about which method of insulin delivery best fits your economic and lifestyle needs.
  • Look at the whole picture. Uncontrolled diabetes is costly in many ways. It’s more than buying supplies and seeing doctors; it can also mean missing work and losing wages.
  • According to a 2006 Institute of Health Care Economics study, the bulk of diabetes healthcare expenditures are driven by the much higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes. When you look at the direct and indirect costs of managing diabetes, it becomes even more apparent why self-care and prevention of long-term complications is so important.


    Following the Trend

    Why look at recent trends? The statistics speak for themselves. As the number of patients with diabetes continues to rise, the amount of direct costs attributed to it increases as well. Look at the following statistics from 1997 and 2002: Direct costs were estimated at $47 billion in 1997 and $92 billion in 2002, and per capita annual health care costs equaled $10,071 in 1997 and increased by 30 percent in 2002 to equal $13,243.


    Indirect costs such as wages lost, days missed from work or disability leave were estimated at $40 billion in 2002, with 88 million days of work missed as a result of diabetes.


    Take Action
    Crunching the Numbers
  • In the US, 1 out of every 10 health care dollars is spent on diabetes
  • Between 1997 and 2002 direct cost of diabetes increased from $47 billion to $92 billion
  • Indirect costs of diabetes in 2002 equaled $40 billion
  • Average initial cost of insulin pumps and related supplies is over $5,000
  • People with type 2 diabetes pay an average of $10,000 to treat complications each year
  • The Real Price of Complications

    Certainly the daily disease management aspect of diabetes is expensive. For example, the average initial cost of insulin pumps and related supplies range from $4,999-$5,495. Other methods of insulin delivery, such as syringes and pens, have annual costs that range from $1,008-$1,496 and $2,938-$4,234, respectively.


    However, increasingly the real economic burden of diabetes is due to the many types of medical complications it can cause. A 2006 report released by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) and sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline included the following statistics:


    • In 2006, treating the complications of type 2 diabetes cost an estimated $22.9 billion
    • Three out of every five people with type 2 diabetes have a minimum of one serious health condition stemming from their diabetes
    • People with type 2 diabetes pay an average of $10,000 to treat complications each year, with nearly $1,600 of that amount coming out of their own pockets


    “We know those complications are out there, but the sheer magnitude of them was a surprise,” said Dr. Daniel Einhorn, an endocrinologist and secretary of the AACE, following the report’s release.


    Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is a given that you are responsible for significant annual direct and indirect costs. While your need for certain medications and insulin might not decrease, there is still a lot you can do to bring down your expenses by preventing future complications. Eating right, testing your blood sugar regularly and making sure you get enough exercise are cost-effective ways to manage your health – and your wallet.


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