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Annual burden of diabetes in the US reaches $245 billion

11 March 2013 IHS Markit Life Sciences Expert

It was a cold and dreary day, with a major snowstorm responsible for the closing of offices throughout the Washington, DC area. The weather outside was perhaps a prelude to the sobering statistics being shared inside the Russell Senate Office Building where we presented the findings on a study that looks at the cost of diabetes in the US.

The study involved analysis of large medical claims files and national survey data to estimate the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, healthcare use patterns and medical costs for people with diabetes compared to a similar population without diabetes, and patterns of employment and other measures of productivity.

In attendance at the press conference sponsored by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) were Senators Collins and Shaheen; senior representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and ADA; members of the media; approximately 30 diabetes advocate volunteers visiting the nation's capital; and study authors from IHS's healthcare analytics team and The Lewin Group.

After introductions by ADA President Dr. John Anderson, ADA's Chief Scientific & Medical Officer, Dr. Robert Ratner, presented an overview of the study and its findings.

  • In 2012, an estimated 22.3 million people in the US were diagnosed with diabetes, representing about 7% of the population.
  • The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in the US in 2012 is $245 billion. This includes $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity.
  • People with diagnosed diabetes incur average medical expenditures of about $13,700 per year, which is about $7,900 higher than would be expected for a similar population that did not have diabetes.
  • People with diagnosed diabetes, on average, have medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.
  • For the cost categories analyzed, care for people with diagnosed diabetes accounts for more than 1 in 5 health care dollars in the US. Diabetes is directly or indirectly responsible for about 1 in 10 health care dollars spent in the US.
  • People with diabetes who are uninsured have substantially fewer physician office visits and lower use of antidiabetic agents and other prescription medications compared to people with diabetes who have insurance, but the uninsured population also has higher rates of diabetes-related emergency visits compared to an insured population.
  • Indirect costs of diabetes include increased absenteeism from work ($5 billion) and reduced productivity while at work ($20.8 billion) for the employed population, reduced productivity for those not in the labor force ($2.7 billion), inability to work as a result of disease related disability ($21.6 billion), and lost productive capacity due to early mortality ($18.5 billion).

Ann Albright, PhD, RD, Director of the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, discussed the importance of reducing the growing prevalence of diabetes and highlighted government programs designed to reduce prevalence.

Dr. Judith Fradkin, MD, Director of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolic Diseases, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, discussed ongoing diabetes-related research to help prevent diabetes and its complications.

Senator Susan Collins (Maine) and Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire) discussed the large burden that diabetes places both on society and on the lives of families and individuals with diabetes.

The research article, published online ahead of print in the journal Diabetes Care, is available for download now.

Learn more about our research and analysis on Diabetes.

About the authors

Tim Dall, managing director, is a health economist with 19 years experience conducting research and policy analysis in the areas of health economics, health care delivery, disease cost and management, health promotion, and health workforce.

Paul Gallo, analyst, is an economist with extensive experience conducting research in health workforce and disease cost and management.

Posted 11 March 2013

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