According to a study published by Harvard University, the cost to treat diabetes globally has risen to over 825 billion dollars. The study finds that over 422 million adults have diabetes. This level has nearly quadrupled since 1980. People living in China have the highest cost for diabetes treatments where over $170 billion is spent on the disease each year. China is followed by the United States where $150 billion is spent annually not including loss productivity.
Diabetes Health Care Spending in the United States
The American Diabetes Association says that spending on diabetes in the United States can be broken down into five categories. The most money spent on diabetes treatments is for hospital inpatient care. This accounts for about 43 percent of the cost or 64.5 billion dollars. According to healthcare think tank Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, many factors determine the frequency and length of hospital stays including age, ethnicity, payer, and income.
The second largest health care cost for diabetes was prescription medications to treat complications of diabetes. This accounted for 18 percent of the total spending or $27 billion dollars. Common complications of diabetes include damage to eyes, heart, and kidneys. It also includes increased dental costs and specialized care to treat feet problems.
The third largest cost of diabetes is represented by antidiabetic agents and diabetes supplies. This accounts for 12 percent of the total spending or about $18 billion dollars. Typical expenses may include oral medications, testing supplies, injection supplies, insulin pumps, and insulin.
Physician visits comprise about nine percent of the total or about $13.5 billion annually. The remainder consists of long-term care costs for diabetics. Most diabetics have medical costs that are about 2..3 percent higher than of a person without diabetes.
What is the Unseen Cost of Diabetes?
It is relatively easy to measure the medical costs of diabetes, but there are also hidden costs of the disease. While some of these costs are quietly borne by diabetics, such as the need to eat healthy foods, society bears other costs.
A variety of complications from diabetes can make it impossible for a person to continue to work. Some of these complications include
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Nerve damage in feet or hands
- Reduced blood flow to limbs
- Skin infections
It is estimated that these disabilities cost the United States’ economy over $21.6 billion annually.
Numerous studies find that having diabetes also decreases a worker’s productivity. It is also believed that many people with diabetes do not reach their full abilities within a company because of the disease. Experts say that the loss of productivity costs the United States $2.7 billion annually.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Many experts believe that the number is highly underestimated. An individual with diabetes is twice as likely to die at any age than a person without diabetes. It is estimated that these deaths cost the United States about $18.5 billion annually.
About 13 percent of all diabetics miss at least one day each month because of their chronic illness. This accounts for over $5.5 billion dollars every year in increased absenteeism.
When all the costs of diabetes are considered, many would agree with best-selling author Doctor Mark Hyman who says:
“The way most doctors practice medicine right now isn’t working.”
Diabetes is a very costly disease. The costs come from the medical community in terms of increased hospital stays, the cost of medicines, diabetic supplies, physician visits, and long-term care costs. The disease also has hidden costs including increased absenteeism, lost productivity, increased disability rates, and earlier mortality. The disease is a costly one for everyone.