A study published in American Journal of Preventative Medicine looked at the cost of care for type 2 diabetes based on age of diagnosis and gender. It reported that in men diagnosed at ages 25 to 44 years, 45 to 54 years, 55 to 64 years, and 65 years or older, the lifetime direct medical costs of treatment and diabetic complications were $124,700, $106,200, $84,000, and $54,700, respectively. In women, the costs were $130,800, $110,400, $85,500, and $56,600, respectively.
People with diabetes who do not have health insurance have 79% fewer physician office visits and are prescribed 68% fewer medications than people with insurance coverage—but they also have 55% more emergency department visits than people who have insurance, according to ADA.
Indirect factors and their costs, as reported by ADA, are:
Inability to work as a result of disease-related disability ($21.6 billion)
Reduced productivity while at work ($20.8 billion) for the employed population
Lost productive capacity due to early mortality ($18.5 billion)
Increased absenteeism ($5 billion)
Reduced productivity for those not in the labor force ($2.7 billion)
“By their nature, intangible costs—pain, suffering, and reduced quality of life—cannot be quantified in dollars,” Petersen adds.
The future outlook
A study published in Population Health Metrics projected that as many as one in three U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue. “Because diabetes prevalence is still increasing, costs will continue to increase,” Petersen says.
“We can work toward and hope for a reduction in costly complications with improved diabetes care; however, improved care has a cost,” Petersen concludes. “The United States has made a serious commitment to diabetes prevention efforts. Prevention programs have been proven to be successful and cost-effective. If implemented widely, these programs may reduce the costs of diabetes and improve quality of life.”
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.