If ever there was a doubt that managing diabetes is expensive, let new data put those doubts to rest: In 2012, the disease cost the U.S. about $245 billion.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) released that number on Thursday in a study appearing in its journal Diabetes Care, noting that it marked a 41-percent increase from 2007, when diabetes tallied up $174 billion in medical expenses.
That increase in cost corresponds with an increase in diagnoses: In 2007, an estimated 17.5 million Americans had the disease. By 2012, that number had shot up to around 26 million.
The latest data says L.A. County accounts for more than 685,000 of those cases; in South L.A., nearly 12 percent of the population has the disease.
The ADA found that direct medical expenses – hospital and emergency care, office visits, medications – totaled about $176 billion in 2012. Indirect costs, including reduced productivity, unemployment due to disability and early death, tacked another $69 billion onto that.
A few numbers from 2012 that illustrate what that looks like:
- Diabetes accounted for more than 26 million hospital inpatient days, which cost nearly $76 billion.
- Diabetics made around 174 million visits to the doctor's office – that's more than $31 billion.
- More than 673 million prescriptions were written to diabetics, costing more than $59 billion.
- Diabetes reduced productivity in the workplace, resulting in the equivalent of 113 million lost workdays, costing nearly $21 billion.
- Diabetes meant that around 25 million workdays were lost altogether, costing $5 billion.
The ADA authors also found that medical costs for people with diabetes are 2.3 times higher than they are for people without diabetes – and the number of people who experience that is only expected to grow:
The percentage of the population with diagnosed diabetes continues to rise, with one study projecting that as many as one in three U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue.
Dr. Robert Ratner, chief scientific and medical officer of the ADA, said in a statement that "while treating diabetes is expensive, it is the fact that the prevalence of the disease is increasing dramatically" that accounts for the spike in cost.
"These numbers are alarming and further highlight the need for our nation to address this epidemic," he said.
The ADA added in its statement that because California has the largest population with diabetes, it pays the most: almost $28 billion.