Cathy Payne, USA TODAY
The growing toll of diabetes cost the nation $245 billion, a record high, in 2012, a 41% increase from $174 billion in 2007, according to new research released today.
The study Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2012, commissioned by the American Diabetes Association, estimated the health care and work-related costs of diagnosed diabetes. The full study will be published in the April issue of Diabetes Care.
John Anderson, the association's president of medicine and science, said the cost of diabetes has risen primarily because of the higher number of people with the disease. "When you look at the per-patient cost of diabetes, it has remained roughly flat," he adds.
Matt Petersen, the association's managing director of medical information, says, "Overall, we're not seeing that each person with diabetes is costing us more." Medication costs did not increase significantly and hospitalization costs, percentage-wise, decreased, he adds.
The study estimated 22.3 million people in the USA were diagnosed with diabetes in 2012. The previous cost of diabetes study by the association estimated that nearly 17.5 million people in the USA were diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in 2007.
Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose, or sugar, levels are above normal. It can cause complications such as amputations of lower limbs, blindness and kidney failure. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the USA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study found that direct medical costs totaled $176 billion, reflecting hospital and emergency care, office visits and medications. Indirect costs added up to $69 billion, which includes absenteeism, reduced or lost productivity, and unemployment caused by diabetes-related disability.
Peter Huckfeldt, an associate economist at RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., says, "The complications of diabetes range from pain from nerve damage to blindness to kidney disease to amputation.
"All these complications will affect people's ability to work," adds Huckfeldt, who was not involved in the study.
Government insurance, including Medicare, Medicaid and the military, covered 62.4% of the costs. Private insurance covered 34.4%; 3.2% of the costs fell on the uninsured.
Total per-capita health expenditures were $8,331 for women and $7,458 for men.
California, the state that has the largest population with diabetes, has the highest costs at $27.55 billion.