March 8, 2013 (Washington, D.C.) -- Diabetes cost the United States an estimated $245 billion in 2012, according to a new analysis from the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
The report is an update to the ADA’s last cost report issued in 2007. It looks at the use of health resources and lost productivity due to diabetes, as well as costs incurred by people with diabetes in the U.S.
The findings, to be published in the April 2013 issue of Diabetes Care, were released at a press briefing on Capitol Hill.
According to the report, about 22.3 million people -- 7% of the U.S. population -- were living with diabetes in 2012, an increase of nearly 5 million since 2007.
“We have an incredible epidemic of diabetes that is driving health care expenditures excessively. ... Unless we do something to stop diabetes, the economic cost will continue to rise,” ADA Chief Scientific and Medical Officer Robert E. Ratner, MD, said at the briefing.
The $245 billion figure is made up of $176 billion in direct medical costs, including hospital and emergency care, doctors' visits, and medications. There also are $69 billion in indirect costs, including lower productivity at work or lost productivity, and premature death.
The total represents a 41% increase from the ADA’s last estimate of $174 billion in 2007, Ratner said.
According to the report, after taking into account age and sex, annual health expenses for people with diabetes are more than double than for those without -- $13,741 vs. $5,853. This suggests that diabetes is responsible for $7,888 in excess costs per year.
According to Ratner, the increased number of people with diabetes is the main reason for the greater economic burden, rather than a rise in medical costs per person.
The cost of diabetes patients spending time in the hospital was the largest contributor to direct medical costs in 2012, at $76 billion compared with $58 billion in 2007. However, on a good note, Ratner said inpatient costs as a proportion of total direct medical costs dropped from 50% to just 43% of the total.
“We appear to be avoiding the costs of hospitalizations and improving less expensive outpatient management,” he said.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), co-chair of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, also spoke at the briefing, noting that one-third of Americans over 65 have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and half are at risk for it.
And, she said, about 1 in 3 Medicare dollars is spent on diabetes. “When you look at the impact of diabetes, it’s evident that if we could prevent the disease and come up with better treatments, we could have a major impact not only on peoples’ lives, but also on the Medicare and Medicaid budgets.”
To see a version of this story for physicians, visit Medscape, the leading site for physicians and health care professionals.
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.