Statistics and the Cost of Diabetes

Ann Bartlett Health Guide
  • A few years ago, I called a health insurance agent about getting coverage.  He asked me if I was in good health and I replied with a resounding, "Yes!" He then asked if I had any health conditions and I said, "No, but I have diabetes!" He quickly replied, "Your out of luck in the state of VA!"


    What?  I've never been turned down for health insurance!  I don't need to go any further into this topic as to why I was rejected. But, in my naïveté, I hadn't realized the difference between applying as an individual versus someone who applies to a group plan. What are health insurance companies for if they don't want to cover you?  I was willing to pay whatever premium, but I was flatly refused!  I then began to troll the web and look into the issue and it was upsetting - just to look at the cost of investing in your health through conventional medicine! As a type 1 diabetic, I calculated my private cost to care for myself without a hospital visit.  While manageable, it felt like I was playing Russian roulette! I was not calculating the "what ifs," like hospitalization and specialists for complications. After our experience, my husband decided to become a health insurance broker.

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    A couple of days ago, Endocrine Today came out with an article on the cost of diabetes for 2007, which estimated a total of $218 billion dollars! The costs were broken down into $153 billion in higher medical costs and $65 billion in reduced productivity. Here are the breakdown of costs per condition: diagnosed diabetes = $174.4 billion, undiagnosed diabetes = $18 Billion, prediabetes = $25 Billion and gestational diabetes = $636 million.


    But what I found most enlightening were the annual costs for each form of diabetes. The per case break down came to $443 for prediabetes, $2,864 for undiagnosed diabetes, $3,514 for gestational diabetes, $9,677 for type 2 diabetes, and the whopper $14,856 for type 1.  I'm type 1, what gives?


    I'm healthy most of the time, right? So I got out my calculator for my medical costs last year... and I don't even want to discuss it. But to give you one medical hit, I spent one night in the hospital for the flu and low blood sugar and it came to $5,600! Then, add normal stuff like test strips, pump supplies, office visits, etc., and that took me above the average per case for 2007! 


    So, to add to this dilemma, the report included private economic burdens to average $700 per individual, annually. For a typical three-person family with an income of $61,000, this represents 3.4% of their earnings. 


    The conclusion of the article read, "The sobering statistics presented in this paper underscore the urgency to better understand the cost mitigation potential of prevention and treatment strategies." (So sobering that I feel like I need a drink!)


    In light of these numbers and statistics...we are site full of intelligent people who know a lot about diabetes management and strategy, so I'm asking our list of experts to give their favorite diabetes post for someone newly diagnosed or struggling to understand diabetes care. Stay tuned for this information.


Published On: January 20, 2010