According to new findings published in Diabetes Care, the incidence of diabetes, and associated health costs are expected to double by 2034. The cost of treating diabetes is expected to triple in the next twenty-five years. The number of Americans living with diabetes will soar to 44.1 million, currently estimated at 23.7million. Cost of diabetes care will increase from 8.2 million to 14.6 million. The study was performed to measure the impact of diabetes relative to health care reform.
According to study co-author Michael O'Grady, PhD, senior fellow at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, "This a serious challenge to Medicare and every other health plan in the country. The cost of doing nothing is the significant increase in the pain and suffering of America's population and a financial burden that will threaten the financial viability of public and private insurers alike. Obesity rates and incidence of diabetes have soared. The new findings show a significant burden on the health care system from obesity, a major contributor to diabetes.
Lead study author Elbert Huang, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago warns that if Americans fail to change dietary habits or if new treatments for diabetes are not found, “we will find ourselves in a lot of trouble as a population”, placing a huge strain on our healthcare system.
The new estimates show that the increasing incidence of diabetes is even more troublesome than previously known. The number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes increased from 10 million in 1994, to 14 million in 2000. In 2007 the number of diabetics reached 19 million. Drug costs for diabetes treatment increased to $12.5 billion in 2007, from $6.7 billion in 2001.
Complications of diabetes lead to even more costs associated with the disease. Earlier diagnosis and advances in treatment have helped individuals with diabetes live longer.
Medicare spending for diabetes treatment will impact public and private insurers, and will be driven by “baby boomers”. The estimated cost of diabetes treatment was performed “to improve the budgetary and health outcome information available to federal policymakers", say the researchers. Increased cost of diabetes is associated with kidney disease, heart disease, amputation, and blindness, all of which will contribute to health spending.