The Economic Burden of Diabetes

I came across an article about the costs of diabetes in the US today while doing some reasearch. Unfortunatly, the article comes from a policy journal, Health Affairs, so I can’t post a link. However, I was surprised at some of the findings. First, the median age of diagnosis for Type 1 was 24. I shouldn’t have been so surprised, since I was nearly 23 and there are plenty of adults at diagnosis here on Tu, but I was surprised that there really are a lot of adults diagnosed w/ T1.
They also came to the conclusion that there are 1 million type 1s in the US, which is 0.3% of Americans. That is a smaller number than I thought it would be. I guess I’m part of a more exclusive club than I thought.
The most important part of this article was the break down of costs. For the average person w/ T2, the annual costs to the the economy (medical costs and lost time at work, ect) was over $9,000 and for the T1, it was over $14,000! That is per year! That is a mindblowing number. Additionally, every single American’s economic burden is $700. So, basically the average American pays $700 worth of increased costs for the things they buy because of us with diabetes.
The final number that really stuck out at me was that for the average middle class person with diabetes, they spend 3.4% of income on diabetes related costs (co-pays, meds, non-prescription things). So that number is higher for those who are lower income and possibly lower for those with a higher income. I say that with a qualifier, because I would think that as your income goes up, you would be more willing to spend money on things like a CGM that isn’t covered by insurance, so the percentage of income that is spent on diabetes care might not go down as income goes up.
Sorry I basically just wrote a mini-thesis, but I thought this was worth sharing. We all know how much this can cost us out of pocket, but really seeing how expensive this disease is makes me really think about how things might change if there was ever a cure…

Here in the UK the cost of diabetes care to the health service is around £10 billion a year - about 10% of all healthcare costs. No doubt pharma thanks us kindly for the money, but a huge amount to lose when the cure comes.

The actual median age for Type 1 diagnosis is higher than 24, since a large number of adult-onset Type 1s (mostly 35+) are misdiagnosed as having Type 2 so don’t even know to throw themselves in the Type 1 category. Then, that very same large group of Type 1s (~10% of the “T2” population) is not included in the number of T1s in the U.S., so the actual number is probably 3 million plus. And the economic burden is indeed staggering.