Diabetics Spend Thousands More on Care

TUESDAY Nov. 25, 2008 -- People with diabetes spend thousands of dollars more on medical costs each year than those without the disease, and that disparity increases substantially each year after the initial diabetes diagnosis.

That's the finding of a new study by researchers at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute in North Carolina.

The researchers calculated that a 50-year-old newly diagnosed diabetes patient spends $4,174 more on medical care a year than someone the same age without diabetes. For that diabetes patient, medical costs increase $158 a year every year after they're diagnosed and that doesn't include increased medical costs due to aging.

Diabetes-related complications such as heart and kidney disease account for the majority of medical cost increases, said the researchers. After they compensated for these complications, the annual increase in medical costs was $75 a year, most of which was due to the increasing need for diabetes medications.

The study was published online Nov. 25 in the journal Diabetes Care.

"The good news is that many of these costs could be contained through proper diabetes management and lifestyle changes," lead author and RTI research economist Justin Trogdon said in an American Diabetes Association news release.

"Numerous studies show that losing weight and increasing physical activity, along with maintaining proper blood glucose levels, can substantially delay or reduce the risk for diabetes-related complications. What our study does is to point out that there is also a cumulative, financial impact to the progression of this disease."

Trogdon and his colleagues also noted that delaying the onset of diabetes in at-risk patients would help reduce cumulative medical costs associated with the disease.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about diabetes.

Posted: November 2008


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