Study examines medical cost increases for individuals living with diabetes

People diagnosed with diabetes spend over $4,100 more each year on medical costs than people who don't have diabetes, a gap that increases substantially each year following the initial diagnosis, according to a study published online today in the journal Diabetes Care.

In the first study to examine medical cost increases for individuals living with diabetes on a year-by-year basis, researchers at RTI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute based in North Carolina, calculated that a 50-year-old newly diagnosed with diabetes spends $4,174 more on medical care per year than a person the same age who doesn't have diabetes. For the person with diabetes, medical costs go up an additional $158 per year every year thereafter, over and above the amount they would increase due to aging-related increases in medical expenses.

Most of the increase can be attributed to the cost of diabetes-related complications, such as heart and kidney disease, the researchers found. Once they controlled for complications, the remaining annual increase in medical costs was $75 per year - the bulk of which could be attributed to the increasing need for diabetes medications the longer a person lives with the disease.

"The good news is that many of these costs could be contained through proper diabetes management and lifestyle changes," said lead researcher Justin Trogdon, Research Economist. "Numerous studies show that losing weight and increasing physical activity, along with maintaining proper blood glucose levels, can substantially delay or reduce the risk for diabetes-related complications. What our study does is to point out that there is also a cumulative, financial impact to the progression of this disease."

Preventing the onset of diabetes would also help to reduce cumulative costs, since medical expenditures grow along with the duration of the disease, the researchers concluded. "Delaying the development of diabetes will delay the steady rise in medical expenditures that accompanies it," they wrote.

The study was funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To obtain a copy of the study, please contact Colleen Fogarty at [email protected].

To reach lead researcher Justin Trogdon, PhD, RTI International, Public Health Economics Program, email: [email protected] or phone: 919-541-6893.

The American Diabetes Association publishes a comprehensive report on the total economic impact of diabetes in the United States. To obtain a copy of the ADA's most recent cost of diabetes study, published January 2008, visit: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/full/31/3/596.

http://www.diabetes.org

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