Diabetes costs Americans $245 billion a year, study finds

Diabetes costs Americans billions of dollars each year and new research from the American Diabetes Association, shows these expenditures are growing at an unprecedented rate. The ADA report, "Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2012," indicates the total estimated cost of diabetes in 2012 reached $245 billion. That's a 41 percent increase from 2007, the latest ADA figure available, when it was $174 billion.

"I know of no other disease that's increasing at (about) 8% per year," Dr. John Anderson, president of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association, told CNN. "That to me isn't surprising, it's troubling."

The largest portion of the 2012 costs -- 43 percent -- went toward inpatient hospital care. Eighteen percent was spent on prescription medication used to treat diabetes complications, another 12 percent on supplies, 9 percent on doctor's visits and 8 percent on nursing or residential facility stays, the report notes.

Yet, the increase in diabetes-related expenditures may not so much be the result of rising health care costs as the number of Americans who are increasingly being diagnosed with the disease, according to Anderson and his colleague Matt Peterson, ADA's managing director of medical information and professional management. In 2007, 17.5 million people had type 1 or type 2 diabetes. That reached 22.3 million in 2012, as noted by CNN.

Diabetes incidence increases with age, so the rise in the number of living Baby Boomers is seen as a factor. Obesity is seen as another.

"We have more people with diagnosed diabetes," Anderson told CNN. "A lot more of them. That's the burden we face."

An ADA summary of the report notes that people with diabetes have average medical expenditures reaching $13,700 annually. Nearly $8,000 of that can be tied back to diabetes. In all, care for those who have diabetes is said to account for more than one in every 5 U.S. dollars spent on health care. Indirect costs contributing to that may include increased work absenteeism, a drop in productivity while at work due to the disease, and the inability to work at all due to a diabetes-caused disability.

"The complications of diabetes range from pain from nerve damage to blindness to kidney disease to amputation," Peter Huckfeldt, an associate economist at RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., told USA Today. "All these complications will affect people's ability to work."

Peterson told CNN that there is a silver lining to the ADA report: Diabetes costs may be growing, but related funds are being spent effectively.

"We're picking it up earlier and caring for it better," he said. "We're getting the right value for our money."

Anderson said the ADA will continue its efforts to raise public awareness about diabetes, increasing diagnoses and prevention efforts before serious complications arise. "That's a great way of preventing the growth of this epidemic," he told CNN.

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