Diabetes Cost to Healthcare: Type II Diabetes Putting Pressure on the Economy


Type II Diabetes; In 2016, the CDC stated that diabetic care cost the healthcare system almost $12,000 a person. This totaled over $178 billion to the overall healthcare economy. The CDC also reported that while 10% of all healthcare dollars are spent on diabetes, 20% of healthcare is spent towards conditions as a result of diabetes. Trusted resources, such as the Mayo Clinic, have weight and inactivity as the leading risk factors for this disease. Although a multitude of predisposing factors also exist, weight and inactivity are very powerful determinants in the existence and progression of type II diabetes.

Cost of Diabetes

$178 billion is a lot but how much of this cost is burdened by the individual? Let’s start with the risk factors. The Mayo Clinic reports the following list of complications for type II diabetes:

  • Heart and Blood Vessel disease – 75% of people with this disease also have diabetes
  • Nerve Damage – starts with tingling but can progress to digestive and bowel problems
  • Kidney Damage – can produce end stage renal failure that requires a transplant to survive
  • Foot Damage – increases risk of infection from cuts and bruises resulting in amputation
  • Skin and Mouth Disease – increased risk for gum infection
  • Osteoporosis – lower bone mineral density
  • Alzheimer’s – lack of insulin decreases brain’s use of glucose
  • Hearing Problems – permanent impairments

The multitude of these complications are simply the impairments and physical consequences to the individual. How much does this cost? Depends what the definition of cost is. Financially speaking, insurance premiums and out of pocket expenses will likely be maxed out with diabetes. This includes expenses such as $30 co-pays at the doctor, co-insurance on surgical procedures for wound care, or expensive diabetic shoes. This totals to thousands each year spent on healthcare services that could have been used other purposes such as retirement, savings, vacations, or general entertainment.

Living with Diabetes

Other costs of diabetes are more opportunistic. Diabetic feet are a “no-no” at the beach, due to the increased risk of infection from cuts and scrapes that go unnoticed. Amputations have the cost of a prosthetic but also the immense difficulty of learning to walk again. Sharp pains and numbness through the hands and feet make daily tasks more difficult, such as walking up and down stairs or getting off the toilet. Unregulated blood sugar makes delicious foods, such as candy, cakes, and pies very dangerous to blood glucose levels. On the flip side, poor glucose regulation can drop blood sugar dangerously low, making an individual tired or confused and in some cases leading to a coma.

The impact of diabetes does not stop with the individual. Family members may have to learn new skills for dressing and caring for slow healing wounds. Friends may lose a golf buddy or a dance partner due to an amputation. Employers and co-workers may have to absorb more work, due to increased sick days, hospital visits, and doctors’ appointments. As diabetes progresses, the individual ailments worsen while the pressure on surrounding family, friends, co-workers, and economy increase with every passing year.

Exercise Helps Diabetes

Exercise, in combination with a good diet, addresses the principle concerns of weight and inactivity in respects to type II diabetes. The Mayo Clinic supports 30 minutes of aerobic activity everyday in conjunction with light strength training. This physical regiment will help control levels of blood sugar and burn calories to support weight loss. The thousands spent by individuals and the hundreds of billions spent nationally each year to address type II diabetes can be significantly lessened through this simple intervention. Saving money, improving personal health, and supporting the US economy all through exercise, a great way to protect the future of America.

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