NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “Discussing Diabetes: The Essential Conversation That Could Change the Health of the Nation”, which examines the idea of technology-enabled between-visit engagement to help patients with the prevention and management of diabetes. Download it HERE!
In one sense, awareness of diabetes is at an all-time high. More and more people are being diagnosed, so more individuals and families are dealing with the impact of diabetes on a daily basis. But when it comes to society as a whole, diabetes is a largely invisible disease. In contrast to red ribbons and pink pins, the international symbol for diabetes — the blue circle — is never seen adorning the lapel of a celebrity tuxedo at a high-profile event.
But in the United States today, more than ten times as many people live with diabetes as live with breast cancer. Every year, the average number of diabetes diagnoses is a staggering 34 times greater than the average number of HIV diagnoses.
Diabetes is, in fact, the seventh leading cause of death in the Unites States — more than breast cancer and AIDS combined.
Cancer and AIDS are undeniably worthy recipients of public attention and research dollars. But so too is diabetes. Looking at the numbers surrounding diabetes, the more apparent the scale of the crisis becomes and the more obvious it is that this is a major threat to the health and prosperity of the nation. The costs to individuals, families and the country as a whole far outweigh the attention it is given.
The Economic Cost of Diabetes
In purely financial terms, diabetes is becoming a huge drain on the nation’s healthcare resources. Diabetes alone is estimated to cost $245 billion each year. In contrast, the American Cancer Society estimated the annual impact of all cancers to be $216.6 billion in the U.S.
Diabetes Costs Break Down
- $176 billion in direct medical costs. After adjusting for population age and sex differences, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were 2.3 times higher than people without diabetes.
- $69 billion on indirect costs, such as disability, work loss and the financial impact of premature death.
Diabetes and the Boomer Effect
- Medicare costs are growing by three percent a year as more and more baby boomers become eligible for benefits.
- More than 10,000 boomers are turning 65 every day — that’s a rate of one person every eight seconds qualifying for Medicare.
- Medicare will expand to provide health coverage for 80 million people in 2030 — compared to 47 million people today. That’s double the growth rate of the past 20 years.
- Medicare spending is projected to increase from $519 billion in 2010 to $929 billion in 2020.
- Diabetes is a significant contributor towards these costs; in 2012, one in four American seniors had diabetes.