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The economic burden of elevated blood glucose levels in 2017 in the United States
Our study, published in Diabetes Care, provides updated estimates of the economic burden of diabetes and prediabetes in the United States. Economic burden reflects the amount by which medical expenditures exceed levels occurring in the absence of diabetes or prediabetes, plus the indirect economic burden associated with reduced labor force participation and productivity.
The study combined analysis of medical claims data and government surveys, and information from the literature. Key findings include:
- The total economic burden associated with elevated blood glucose levels in the United States in 2017, including direct medical costs and indirect economic costs, reached nearly $404 billion—$327.2 billion for diagnosed diabetes, $31.7 billion for undiagnosed diabetes, $43.4 billion for prediabetes, and nearly $1.6 billion for gestational diabetes.
- This annual $404 billion burden represents a hidden "tax" averaging $1,240 per American in the form of higher medical costs and reduced national productivity, or $3,150 for the typical household representing 5.1% of household income.
- Average annual burden per case (number of people)
- Diagnosed diabetes: $13,240 (24.7 million adults and children)
- Undiagnosed diabetes: $4,250 per (7.5 million adults)
- Prediabetes: $500 (85.9 million adults)
- Gestational diabetes: $5,800 (268,900 babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes)
- Three of four dollars in total economic burden associated with diabetes and prediabetes was associated with medical costs ($302 billion), with one in four dollars associated with non-medical costs ($102 billion).
Not all cases of diabetes and prediabetes can be prevented, and for people who experience disease onset not all complications can be prevented. Consequently, these burden estimates overstate preventable medical costs. Still, these findings underscore the urgency to adopt more comprehensive screening approaches, as well as better prevention and treatment strategies, including continued scaling of the National Diabetes Prevention Program and greater uptake of Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support.
Acknowledgements: Funding for this study was provided by Novo Nordisk Inc.
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