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The American Diabetes Association estimates the economic burden of diabetes in 2012 to be $245 billion

Earlier this month, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), announced the results of a study of the economic burden of diagnosed diabetes in Diabetes Care (2013). The ADA estimates that the cost of diabetes was $245 billion in 2012, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity. The cost of diabetes is up 41% from 2007 and up 86% from 2002, and by our inflation adjusted calculations, up 21% from 2007 and up 46% from 2002 – still a substantial increase; these calculations only include people who are diagnosed with diabetes. Overall, more than one in five dollars spent on healthcare (23%) in 2012 was directed to care for people with diagnosed diabetes. The largest healthcare costs were related to hospitalization and diabetes complications: 43% for inpatient hospital stays and 18% for prescriptions to treat complications.

According to the ADA, the main reason for the cost increase is that there are now more people living with diabetes (the cost for treating each person has not increased): approximately 22 million people had diagnosed diabetes in 2012, up a striking 27% from 2007. Additionally, more than seven million Americans are estimated to have undiagnosed diabetes, meaning a total of 29 million people have it (diagnosed and undiagnosed) in the US – for perspective, in 1986, there were 30 million people globally who had diabetes.

In the past five years, the percentage of costs due to medications for diabetes and diabetes supplies has remained stable (12% in 2012, 12% in 2007, and 13% in 2002). That only 12% was spent on medications and supplies also suggests that a good way to reduce spending on diabetes is to target other areas driving costs. Since the biggest bucket comes from hospital care, we hope to see more therapies and technologies aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes and at keeping people healthier and out of the hospital.–MN/HD