National Changing Diabetes Program Estimates 44 Million with Diabetes and $336 Billion in Related Costs by 2034
As health care spending becomes an increasing concern, the cost associated with chronic disease – particularly diabetes – is becoming an important issue to consider. A recent study, led by Dr. Elbert Huang of the University of Chicago and funded by the National Changing Diabetes Program, estimated both the prevalence and spending on diabetes over a 25-year period in the United States. The study estimates that the prevalence of diabetes will jump from 24 to 44 million, with diabetes-related spending increasing from $113 billion to $336 billion from 2009 to 2034. While these numbers are disheartening, several helpful insights were made. First, the cost increase over this time period was primarily attributed to the increasing size of the Medicare-eligible population, rather than increasing obesity rates; by 2034, the Medicare-eligible population is expected to account for more than half of all diabetes spending. Furthermore, the incidence of undiagnosed diabetes and obesity in the diabetes population is expected to stabilize or slightly decrease. These findings may indicate that the increased awareness and action at the community level is helping to stabilize the rates of undiagnosed diabetes and obesity. We hope that the identification of the Medicare-eligible population as a growing source of diabetes spending will encourage the expansion of diabetes prevention and management programs targeting this population. We also believe that, at least in the US, healthcare reform will prompt insurers to begin to invest more in people with diabetes staying healthy and avoiding complications (previously, they could elect not to cover patients with diabetes but no longer!).