NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 20, 2008

According to a new study by the Lewin Group, diabetes is rapidly becoming one of the world's most common diseases and its financial cost is mounting.  In the United States, diabetes costs $218 billion.  That 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 health disease and stroke.

The researchers examined direct medical care costs, from insulin and pills for controlling patients' blood sugar to amputations and hospitalization, plus indirect costs such as lost productivity, disability and early retirement.  They found:

  • Among people with Type 1 diabetes -- which generally begins in youth and can have a genetic link -- researchers estimated $10.5 billion in medical costs and $4.4 billion in indirect costs, for a total of $14.9 billion.
  • Nearly 6 percent of the 17.9 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes have Type 1.
  • An 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.
  • For people who haven't been diagnosed yet the cost is $18 billion, for women who develop diabetes temporarily during pregnancy, $636 million, and for those on track to develop diabetes, an increasingly common condition called pre-diabetes, $25 billion.
  • Moreover, diabetes has not seen a decline or even a plateauing, and the death rate from diabetes continues to rise.

Nevertheless, plenty of companies have started efforts on diabetes; 6 coalitions are running programs giving participating employees diabetes medicines without a co-pay, six more pay doctors extra for helping patients control their diabetes, and one offers both types of programs.

Source: Linda A. Johnson, "Study puts a total on diabetes cost: $218 billion," Associated Press, November 18, 2008,


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