In the Journals

Diabetes creates 'hidden tax' for US residents

The average annual cost of diabetes for the entire U.S. population rose 13% between 2012 and 2017, according to findings presented in Diabetes Care.

Timothy M. Dall

“While recommendations from [the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force] and many government policies are based on clinical rather than economic outcomes, the high prevalence and large economic burden of diabetes suggests that policies and programs to help prevent or treat diabetes have the potential for substantial economic benefits as well as the health and quality-of-life benefits for people with diabetes and their families,” Timothy M. Dall, executive director, IHS Markit in Washington, D.C., told Endocrine Today. “If the nation could reduce diabetes prevalence and burden through appropriate prevention and treatment activities, the savings could allow scarce health care resources to be directed to other areas of need.”

Dall and colleagues used data from the 2016 American Community Survey, the 2015-2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Medicare Beneficiary Survey, Nursing Home Minimum Data Set, files from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007-2014, the Optum deidentified Normative Health Information database, Medicare Standard Analytical Files, the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to determine prevalence, use and costs associated with diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes, prediabetes and gestational diabetes. The authors analyzed medical claims to calculate how much more patients with these conditions paid for health care relative to people without these conditions, and analyzed national surveys and used information from previously published studies to estimate reduced employment and productivity associated with these conditions.

According to the researchers’ analysis, diabetes cost the entire U.S. population $404 billion in 2017, with the majority weighing on the estimated 24.7 million people with diagnosed diabetes ($327.2 billion). Based on a 2012 estimate of $344 billion when adjusted to 2017 dollars, the cost rose 13% in a 5-year span. The researchers noted that the annual cost per person for diagnosed diabetes was more than $10,000, with annual costs of $4,250 and $500 estimated for those with undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes, respectively. In addition, medical expenses related to gestational diabetes added roughly $5,800 more than for a pregnancy without the condition.

“This annual $404 billion burden represents a hidden ‘tax’ averaging $1,240 per American in the form of higher medical costs and reduced national productivity,” the researchers wrote. “These findings underscore the urgency to adopt more comprehensive screening approaches as well as better prevention and treatment strategies, including continued scaling of the National Diabetes Prevention Program and greater uptake of diabetes self-management education and support.” – by Phil Neuffer

Disclosures: Dall reports he provides paid consulting services to federal and state governments, nonprofit entities and for-profit entities, including the ADA and Novo Nordisk. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

The average annual cost of diabetes for the entire U.S. population rose 13% between 2012 and 2017, according to findings presented in Diabetes Care.

Timothy M. Dall

“While recommendations from [the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force] and many government policies are based on clinical rather than economic outcomes, the high prevalence and large economic burden of diabetes suggests that policies and programs to help prevent or treat diabetes have the potential for substantial economic benefits as well as the health and quality-of-life benefits for people with diabetes and their families,” Timothy M. Dall, executive director, IHS Markit in Washington, D.C., told Endocrine Today. “If the nation could reduce diabetes prevalence and burden through appropriate prevention and treatment activities, the savings could allow scarce health care resources to be directed to other areas of need.”

Dall and colleagues used data from the 2016 American Community Survey, the 2015-2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Medicare Beneficiary Survey, Nursing Home Minimum Data Set, files from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007-2014, the Optum deidentified Normative Health Information database, Medicare Standard Analytical Files, the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to determine prevalence, use and costs associated with diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes, prediabetes and gestational diabetes. The authors analyzed medical claims to calculate how much more patients with these conditions paid for health care relative to people without these conditions, and analyzed national surveys and used information from previously published studies to estimate reduced employment and productivity associated with these conditions.

According to the researchers’ analysis, diabetes cost the entire U.S. population $404 billion in 2017, with the majority weighing on the estimated 24.7 million people with diagnosed diabetes ($327.2 billion). Based on a 2012 estimate of $344 billion when adjusted to 2017 dollars, the cost rose 13% in a 5-year span. The researchers noted that the annual cost per person for diagnosed diabetes was more than $10,000, with annual costs of $4,250 and $500 estimated for those with undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes, respectively. In addition, medical expenses related to gestational diabetes added roughly $5,800 more than for a pregnancy without the condition.

“This annual $404 billion burden represents a hidden ‘tax’ averaging $1,240 per American in the form of higher medical costs and reduced national productivity,” the researchers wrote. “These findings underscore the urgency to adopt more comprehensive screening approaches as well as better prevention and treatment strategies, including continued scaling of the National Diabetes Prevention Program and greater uptake of diabetes self-management education and support.” – by Phil Neuffer

Disclosures: Dall reports he provides paid consulting services to federal and state governments, nonprofit entities and for-profit entities, including the ADA and Novo Nordisk. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.