Diabetes cost America $327 billion dollars in 2017 as the rates of diagnoses soared once again, new figures reveal.
Like many diseases, the overall cost of diabetes includes deaths, lost productivity and related diseases like obesity.
But uniquely, it is one of the most expensive in direct medical costs, totaling an eye-watering $237 billion in one year, according to new figures published this week by the American Diabetes Association.
This huge hit on taxpayers’ pockets is only set to get worse, the CDC warned on Thursday with the release of a report showing 23 million Americans had the disease in 2016, and that figure has now likely surpassed 30 million.
The overwhelming majority (21 million) in the 2016 study were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is associated with poor diet and obesity driving resistance to insulin.
Two new reports from the American Diabetes Association and the CDC lay bare the staggering cost and the burgeoning scale of Americans with the disease
Experts warn targeting lifestyle factors will be key to curbing disease rates and could save the US hundreds of billions of dollars.
Crucially, though, endocrinologists warn there seems to be a distinct lack of interest in researching type 1, an autoimmune disease which destroys the pancreas and needs to be caught and treated as early as possible.
‘While therapies for type 2 diabetes are entering the marketplace at a rapid-fire pace, hopefully this report will reinforce the importance of continued research into [type 1] autoimmune diabetes treatments,’ Dr Caroline Messer, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told HealthDay.
The newly-assessed cost of diabetes is a 26 percent climb from 2012.
As of 2017, Americans spent $71.2 billion on diabetes prescription medications, $69.7 billion on hospital inpatient services, $34.6 billion on over-the-counter supplies, and $30 billion on doctor visits.
Dr William Cefalu, the ADA’s chief scientific officer, presented the findings on Capitol Hill last week, flanked by other medics and players from the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, whose long snapper Reid Ferguson has a younger brother with type 1 diabetes.
Addressing lawmakers, Dr Cefalu said: ‘It is very clear that diabetes bears a significant impact on our nation, both in its toll on the lives of the millions affected by it, and the economic costs for all.’
Turning the tide is no easy feat, Dr Cefalu admitted. Unfortunately, as is the case with many diseases, the first step to combating this already-costly disease is money.
‘The most important solution we have is continued and increased investment in critical diabetes research, care and prevention to improve diagnosis and treatment, and to help us turn the tide through diabetes prevention,’ he said.
‘These efforts can help us to improve health outcomes for people with diabetes – and hopefully decrease the cost of diabetes.’