"As diabetes is rapidly becoming one of the world's most common diseases, its financial cost is mounting, too, to well over $200 billion a year in the U.S. alone, according to a new study.
The study, released Tuesday, puts the total at $218 billion last year — the first comprehensive estimate of the financial toll diabetes takes, according to Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk A/S, which paid for the study.
That figure includes direct medical care costs, from insulin and pills for controlling patients' blood sugar to amputations and hospitalizations, plus indirect costs such as lost productivity, disability and early retirement.
The $218 billion amounts to about 10 percent of all U.S. health care spending by government and the public, about $2.1 trillion in 2006, and nearly half the $448.5 billion cost of heart disease and stroke.
The study, conducted by the Lewin Group consultants, estimates costs for people known to have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes at $174.4 billion combined, a total previously reported by Novo Nordisk, the world's top producer of insulin and the maker of diabetes pills such as NovoNorm and Prandin. That study was done with the American Diabetes Association.
The new study adds estimates for people who haven't been diagnosed yet ($18 billion), women who develop diabetes temporarily during pregnancy ($636 million) and those on track to develop diabetes, an increasingly common condition called pre-diabetes ($25 billion).
"Diabetes has not seen a decline or even a plateauing, and the death rate from diabetes continues to rise," said Dana Haza, senior director of the National Changing Diabetes Program, an effort Novo Nordisk began in 2005 to improve diabetes care and prevention in the U.S.
"The numbers just keep going higher and higher, and what we want to say is, 'It's time for government and businesses to focus on it,'" said Haza.
Already, the federal government spends more than $85 billion a year — about one in eight health care dollars — on treatment of people with diabetes, disability payments to them, research and related efforts.
Drugmakers such as Novo Nordisk also see diabetes as an important — and lucrative — disease.
The Health Services Research Network, an academic consortium that does research using data from health information firm IMS Health, on Tuesday released data showing the average number of diabetes medications prescribed per patient rose from 1.14 in 1994 to 1.63 in 2007.
Over the same period, estimated yearly patient visits for diabetes care increased from 25 million to 36 million.
Novo Nordisk presented its data Tuesday at a health care conference for corporate executives and plans to publish a full report in a professional journal. The calculations are based on numbers from sources including databases on treatment of people with commercial insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, federal public health surveys and other sources.
Andrew Webber, president and chief executive of the National Business Coalition on Health, said the study is the first he's seen estimating diabetes costs, including indirect costs, which "add up and create such a powerful argument as to why employers need to take this challenge on."
"This study gives a very persuasive argument to employers to invest in a culture of health in their workforce," Webber said, calling the worsening diabetes epidemic "the tsunami that is coming."
Among people known to have diabetes, the new study estimated $10.5 billion in medical costs and $4.4 billion in indirect costs, or a total of $14.9 billion, for people with Type 1 diabetes, which generally begins in youth and can have a genetic link. Nearly 6 percent of the 17.9 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes have Type 1.
The study estimated $105.7 billion in medical costs and $53.8 billion in indirect costs, totaling $159.5 billion, for people with Type 2 diabetes, previously called adult-onset diabetes because of its link to the bigger waistlines and sedentary lifestyles of middle age."
These numbers are shocking. Diabetes, as rightfully pointed out in the article, has become a lucrative disease, alongside cancer and heart disease. When we see just how much money is being made by Big Pharma, insurance companies, medical establishments and advertisement agencies it is easy to understand why all these "wars" against cancer and diabetes are failing.
Sadly, if this money has been spent on supporting organic food growers, public education about nutrition, health programs for kids and overweight adults, we would probably see a nationwide remission, if not total elimination, of diabetes in our society.
Diabetes is 100% diet and lifestyle related disease. There is absolutely no doubt about it. It has been proved many times over and I am just shocked that this infomraiton is still not being openly discussed.
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I am a firm believer that pharmaceutical companies and the government they control are fully invested in people being sick. Drugs never make people healthy, they simply mask the symptoms while creating an array of new ones. But drugs costs a lot of money and as long as there's someone making a profit we will be bombarded with false information and drug ads.
However, knowledge is power and if you take time to educate yourself and your loved ones about healthy eating and beneficial lifestyle habits you will be far better off than most of the general public.
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