U.S. Diabetes Costs Top $174 Billion
Study Shows Diabetes Costs Have Risen Nearly One-Third Since 2002
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 23, 2008 -- Diabetes is costing the country more than $174 billion
per year, according to an analysis by the American Diabetes Association
The study concludes that direct medical care and treatment for diabetes
complications, along with indirect costs like lost productivity, have gone up
by nearly a third since 2002.
Most of the medical costs associated with diabetes come from treating
complications like eye disease, amputations, and kidney failure, according to
the study conducted by the Lewin Group auditing firm. About $27 billion of the
$116 billion in direct medical costs in 2007 went to treating
"The cost most likely dramatically underestimates the true cost,"
says Ann L. Albright, PhD, ADA's president of health care and education.
The $174 billion figure means that nearly one-tenth of the nation's $2
trillion health budget goes to diabetes care.
More than 21 million Americans are thought to have diabetes. Albright says
the report's estimates include roughly 6 million who have the disease but are
Diabetes results when the body either doesn't produce insulin, produces too
little of it, or doesn't respond to the insulin it does produce. Without
insulin the body can't metabolize sugar. That can damage blood vessels and lead
to a host of cardiovascular and other illnesses.
Ed Gregg, chief of diabetes epidemiology at the CDC, says the results are
"not that surprising."
While diabetes patients on average have better glucose control than they did
a decade ago, the number of people with diabetes continues to rise. Much of the
trend is being driven by widespread obesity.
A 2002 study concluded that moderate exercise, dietary changes, and weight
loss can help at-risk adults cut their chances of developing the disease by
nearly 60%. The diabetes drug metformin was also effective at
reducing diabetes incidence in at-risk adults.
A 7% weight loss, or 14 pounds for a 200-pound person, was enough to
significantly cut diabetes risk, says Griffin Rogers, MD, chief of the National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National
Institutes of Health. "It's not an enormous number."