Number of people living with diabetes
The United States has seen a drastic rise in reported cases of diabetes over the recent years. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that twenty-nine million people are living with diagnosed cases of diabetes in the U.S., a significant increase from the twenty-six million cases last reported in 2010.
An estimated one in four of those individuals are not yet aware that they are living with the disease. In addition, another eighty-six million people (approximately one in three adults) are currently living with prediabetes, a condition in which the blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes yet. Without moderate exercise and weight loss, fifteen to thirty percent of those individuals will develop type 2 diabetes within five years from the first onset of symptoms.
The director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, Anne Albright, Ph.D., R.D., states that “these new numbers are alarming and underscore the need for an increased focus on reducing the burden of diabetes in our country. Diabetes is costly in both human and economic terms. It’s urgent that we take swift action to effectively treat and prevent this serious disease.”
Increase in number of cases
Type 2 diabetes (a form of diabetes), is a chronic medical condition that occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin (a glucose regulating hormone), or fails to use it properly. Rather than converting glucose (sugar) into energy, the glucose instead backs up into the bloodstream causing a host of issues and oftentimes complications for the patient. Type 2 diabetes is also known as noninsulin-dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes, because most patients present with symptoms later in life, unlike type 1 diabetes which usually develops during childhood. This particular form of diabetes is by far the most common, and typically occurs in overweight individuals who are over the age of forty, and have a family history of diabetes. Although most patients with type 2 diabetes fit this criteria, physicians across the country are reportedly seeing a significant increase in the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in younger individuals over the recent years.
With healthcare costs skyrocketing across the United States for both individuals and health insurance providers, it is important to evaluate the lifetime financial costs of treating type 2 diabetes and its associated complications, when compared to the overall lifetime medical costs of treating healthy individuals. How does a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes impact the patient’s overall quality of life?
The physical and mental well-being of patients who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is noticeably reduced when compared to individuals who do not have the medical condition, affecting the overall quality of life for the individual, while also impacting the patient’s family. According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, patients with diabetes are four times more likely to display symptoms of depression than those who do not have the disease. It is likely that the unpredictability of blood glucose levels is a contributing factor.
The most recent study on the direct lifetime medical costs of treating type 2 diabetes and its complications in the United States was published by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in 2013 using a simulation model based on data collected from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, as well as annual data gathered from the healthcare industry over the lifespan of patients who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Direct lifetime medical cost is defined by the costs associated with the management and treatment of type 2 diabetes and its associated complications.
The average lifetime direct medical costs for treating patients with type 2 diabetes and related complications range slightly based on gender, age, and the age of diagnosis. The study revealed that the lifetime medical costs are slightly higher with women than with men. In addition, the study showed that the lifetime medical cost of type 2 diabetes and the management of diabetic complications decreased in patients who were diagnosed at an older age, because the life expectancy decreases with age.
- The overall average direct lifetime medical costs of type 2 diabetes and related complications for both men and women was $85,200.
- Women who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between the ages of twenty-five through forty-four years of age cost a lifetime average of $130,800
- women who were diagnosed between the ages of forty-five through fifty-four cost $110,400
- women who were diagnosed between the ages of fifty-five through sixty-four years cost $85,000
- women who were diagnosed after the age of sixty-five cost approximately $56,600
- Men who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between the ages of twenty-five through forty-four years of age cost an average lifetime direct medical cost of $124,700
- men who were diagnosed between the ages of forty-five through fifty-four cost a lifetime average of $106,200
- men who were diagnosed between the ages of fifty-five through sixty-four years cost $84,000
- men who were diagnosed after the age of sixty-five cost approximately $54,700
Data derived from the study suggests that patients who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes visited primary care physicians, hospitals, and endocrinologists more frequently than those without diabetes. Patients who were not dependent on insulin made an average of seven visits a year, and those who were required to take insulin to properly treat their disease visited healthcare facilities approximately eight times a year. The study also revealed that 53% of the estimated lifetime costs went to treating diabetic complications. Cardiovascular complications cost the highest by far averaging a total of 57%, while other diabetic complications such as neuropathy, retinopathy, kidney disease, and diabetes related amputations cost significantly less overall for both the patient and the healthcare system.
A 2014 study done by the American Diabetes Association reported that individuals with diabetes and related complications accumulate double the direct lifetime medical costs when compared to individuals who have not been diagnosed with diabetes. Unlike the previous study on type 2 diabetes and printed in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, the most recent study done by the American Diabetes Association directly compared the lifetime cost differences of the two individual groups, giving a more comprehensive and accurate analysis.
Expert studies reveal the staggering increase in diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes and its related complications in the United States over the last decade. Studies show that patients who have been diagnosed with the disease visit primary care providers, endocrinologists, and hospitals more frequently than patients who do not have the disease. The direct lifetime medical costs of treating type 2 diabetes and its related complications costs individuals and health care companies approximately double the amount than the lifetime medical care costs for an individual who has not been diagnosed with the disease.
Studies also reveal that the majority of people who have been diagnosed with the disease are overweight. Age, weight, and genetics are the most significant contributing factors in the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Prevention including a well-balanced diet and moderate exercise is the key to decreasing diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes in the United States.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (17 June 2014). Diabetes Latest. Accessed 11 March 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfactsheet/.
Mayo Clinic Staff Print. (13 January 2016). Type 2 diabetes. Accessed 10 March 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/home/ovc-20169860.
Joslin Diabetes Center Print. (2017, January). Joslin Diabetes Center | Questions about Type 2 Diabetes. Accessed 10 March 2017, from http://www.joslin.org/info/common_questions_about_type_2_diabetes.html.
Rubin, R. (n.d.). Diabetes and Quality of Life. Accessed 11 March 2017, from http://journal.diabetes.org/diabetesspectrum/00v13n1/pg21.htm.
Joslin Diabetes Center Staff, J. D. (2017). Joslin Diabetes Center | Diabetes and Depression. Accessed 11 March 2017, from http://www.joslin.org/info/are-diabetes-and-depression-linked.html.
Zhuo, X., Zhang, P., & Hoerger, T. (2013, September). Lifetime Direct Medical Costs of Treating Type 2 Diabetes and Diabetic Complications. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 45(3), Page 1. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2013.04.017.
Zhuo, X., Zhang, P., & Hoerger, T. (2013, September). Lifetime Direct Medical Costs of Treating Type 2 Diabetes and Diabetic Complications. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 45(3), Page 5. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2013.04.017.
Staff, D. H. (26 August 2013). Type 2 Costs Average $85,000 Over a Lifetime. Accessed 11 March 2017, from https://www.diabeteshealth.com/type-2-costs-average-85000-over-a-lifetime/.
Zhuo, X., Zhang, P., Barker, L., Albright, A., Thompson, T. J., & Gregg, E. (1 September 2014). The Lifetime Cost of Diabetes and Its Implications for Diabetes Prevention. Accessed 11 March 2017, from http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/37/9/2557.full.