What Is the Financial Cost of Diabetes?

Woman testing blood sugar for diabetes health cost management
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According to the American Diabetes Association, every 21 seconds someone is diagnosed with Diabetes. Healthcare costs associated with diabetes in the U.S. is $327 Billion dollars. According to a March 2018 report by the CDC, 23 million U.S. adults have diabetes. One out of three Americans are pre-diabetic. The financial cost of diabetes for American families is very high, data shows that the financial cost of diabetes is 2.3 times higher for those with diabetes than healthcare of those who do not have diabetes. The most recent 2018 report on data on the financial cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States from the Diabetes Care March 2018 volume was $327 billion.

Latest Financial Cost of Diabetes Data Timeline 2007- Present

When we look at the historic financial cost of diabetes, the costs have increased over the years here is a comparison of the total costs from 2007 to the most recent data available as of March 2018: 

In looking at the statistics over time, it's easy to see how these costs are rising substantially and having a heavy financial impact on those with diabetes and the country as a whole.

Cost of Diabetes Breakdown

According to the Diabetes Council data based on 2012 statistics and the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the breakdown of the cost of diabetes was:

  • 43% is attributed to hospital care
  • 18% goes to prescription medications including insulin and medications to treat complications related to diabetes
  • 12% is for the supplies for diabetes care, including anti-diabetes products
  • 9% for doctor or health care visits
  • 8% for a nursing home, assisted care, and other long-term care
  • 10% or the remainder for "other" costs

What Makes the Financial Cost of Diabetes So Expensive

Diabetes impacts 30 million adults and children in the U.S.

Diabetes is a disease which requires self-management, if you have diabetes, besides understanding how to eat the right foods for your condition and making lifestyle changes, you will find out that there are costs associated with the supplies and tools needed to effectively manage diabetes and prevent complications.  

People with diabetes face costs on a daily basis since they have to use supplies like insulin, test strips, and blood sugar meters. Not having the resources to handle the financial cost of diabetes can cause serious complications and medical issues.

For example, the average price of insulin increased nearly 3 times between 2002 and 2013 according to Diabetes.org

How Much Diabetes Costs You Over a Lifetime

The Cost of Diabetes will depend on how well you manage your diabetes and prevent complications, you can read more about reducing the medical cost of diabetes below. There is no one number we can attribute that would work for everyone, but there have been several studies, based on a study in Diabetes Care 2014, with costs attributed by age of diagnosis, the lifetime cost was predicted as:

  • $124,600 ($211,400 if not discounted) at age 40
  • $91,200 ($135,600) at age 50
  • $53,800 ($70,200) at age 60
  • $35,900 ($43,900) at age 65 years

In 2018, Modern Healthcare estimates $100,000 of lifetime Diabetes related expenditures in this infographic.

The cost of diabetes will vary based on the age of diagnosis and life span, but overall what all the data tells us is that the cost and medical expenditure of Diabetes are significantly higher and requires a great deal of investment in order to manage care.

*see also this additional source from 2013 for similar data.

Direct and Indirect Costs Associated With Diabetes

There are two different kinds of costs associated with Diabetes, these are the direct costs which would be those related to the actual medical care and treatment of diabetes, and then there are indirect costs, such as the loss of productivity and the cost of Diabetes to businesses in the U.S.

Of the $327 billion in costs associated with Diabetes as of the latest update in March 2018:

  • $237 billion was for the direct medical costs of diabetes
  • $90 billion was for the indirect cost for reduced productivity

Which State Has the Highest Diabetes Cost

Financial costs of diabetes vary by state, you can check the statistics on the cost of diabetes per state on the ADA website.

For example, California has $27 Billion in direct costs related to diabetes and 12.5 billion in costs related to indirect costs of diabetes from lost productivity. Another example is Florida with $19.5 billion in direct and $5.5 billion in indirect costs related to diabetes. 

Increased Medical Risks Adding to Costs of Diabetes

In addition to the management and costs of diabetes for the 1 in 11 Americans who have it, having diabetes puts people at an increased risk of:

  • Stroke
  • Blindness
  • Kidney Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Loss of toes, feet or legs

Having access to a good health insurance plan when you have diabetes becomes very important to help cover costs and provide access to proper care and prevent complications. 

Decreasing the Costs of Diabetes

Although the cost of managing and treatment of diabetes is high, there are ways to reduce the financial burden of diabetes by:

  • Detecting prediabetes, before it turns into diabetes
  • Following a good treatment plan when you have diabetes and managing your care can prevent complications which then reduce costs associated with diabetes complications. For example, according to The Diabetes Council, better-controlled diabetes can reduce diabetes-related costs approximately $1,328 monthly.
  • Increased physical activity (as recommended by a patient's physician)
  • Understanding the recommended diet and taking steps to lead a healthier lifestyle as directed by your doctor can help reduce the costs. 
  • Education 
  • Having access to good healthcare 

Understanding the coverages that your healthcare plan offers, how the deductibles and co-pays work; finding out about what prescription drugs are covered, as well as medical tests and wellness visits can help you make a good choice for an affordable health plan that will provide what you need when you have diabetes.