Diabetes costs patients $5,000+ per year in extra medical expenses

New treatments could save $535 billion over a decade

Two new studies highlight the growing costs of Alzheimer's disease and diabetes, with advocacy groups calling for more action to control spending and improve treatment.  

Study: It's become more expensive to have diabetes

According to a study published in Diabetes Care last month, diabetes management spending doubled over 20 years in the United States.

What we can learn from Germany about managing diabetes

For the study, researchers assessed National Medical Expenditure Survey information from 1987, 2000-2001, and 2010-2011. The researchers found that, compared with people without diabetes, people with diabetes spent an average of:  

  • $2,588 in additional health care costs in 1987;
  • $4,205 in additional health care costs in 2000; and
  • $5,378 in additional health care costs in 2010

Researchers also broke down the additional spending after accounting for factors such as age, race, obesity, and type of care. They found that patients with diabetes used:

  • 55% of the additional spending for prescription medications;
  • 24% for inpatient visits;
  • 15% for outpatient visits; and
  • 6% for ED visits and other expenses.

Overall, the researchers found that spending has grown because people with diabetes are more frequently using health services and because the cost of health services has increased.

Xiahui Zhou, a CDC health economist who led the study, called the increase in care spending "simply unsustainable." He said, "Besides the efforts to bend the treatment cost, the efforts to reduce the number of future diabetes patients are imperative."

Report: Alzheimer's costs expected to surge

In related news, a new report from the Alzheimer's Association found that as the U.S. population ages, Medicare and Medicaid spending for individuals with Alzheimer's could increase twofold by 2030 and nearly five-fold by 2050, up from about $153 billion in 2015.

The researchers urged the government to meet its goals for research funding to find a cure or effective treatment by 2025. According to the researchers, finding such treatments could save the U.S. $220 billion within five years, while a treatment that slows onset of the disease could cut spending by $535 billion over a decade.

In breakthrough, researchers create 'Alzheimer's in a petri dish'

The report found that if no treatment is found, spending on individuals with Alzheimer's will account for 31% of Medicare costs in 2030, up from the current rate of 18%. Currently, Medicare and Medicaid pay for about 68% of the $226 billion annual Alzheimer's care costs in the United States.

In addition, the report found that without a treatment, the percentage of older U.S. residents who have the disease will increase to 16% in 2050, up from 11% in 2015. According to the Washington Post, the number of U.S. residents with Alzheimer's is predicted to grow from five million to 13.5 million in 2050 (Kennedy, Reuters/Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/4; Sullivan, The Hill, 2/; Kunkle, Washington Post, 2/5).

The takeaway: The cost of diabetes has doubled in the past 20 years, while Alzheimer's expenditures are expected to rise significantly in the coming decades. Experts warn that both trends are unsustainable. For more, see how a "Truman Show"-style nursing home is changing dementia care.

How six hospitals launched diabetes management programs

As obesity and diabetes rates rise across the country, many hospitals have developed outpatient diabetes centers. Projections estimate that by 2050, one in three Americans will have diabetes. The most progressive hospitals have combined diabetes treatment, education, wound care, ophthalmology, and other services into comprehensive programs.

In this briefing, we profiled six leading institutions have successfully integrated outpatient diabetes services into their primary care networks. Read it now to learn how an effectively implemented program can benefit PCPs who may otherwise be unable to provide quality diabetes care to their patients and help your organization set itself apart from the competition.


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