Every partner of or person with type 2 diabetes knows all too well the costs of the disease to body and soul – but what about the condition's financial burden?

Until a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, people with diabetes and their caregivers had little data demonstrating how damaging the financial toll can be over a lifetime. The age-gender weighted average was $85,200 for a lifetime. Fifty-three percent of the additional cost came directly from the diabetes.

The study gave specific data by age and gender, saying "In men diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at ages 25–44 years, 45–54 years, 55–64 years, and 65 years or older, the lifetime direct medical costs of treating type 2 diabetes and diabetic complications were $124,700, $106,200, $84,000, and $54,700, respectively. In women, the costs were $130,800, $110,400, $85,500, and $56,600, respectively."

Aside from the personal financial burdens to a family, the researchers noted that the estimated total economic cost of diabetes in 2012 was $245 billion. This represents not only $176 billion in direct costs, but accounts for $69 billion in reduced productivity.

Back to the Future

The AJPM study, released in September 2013, estimated the costs for a lifetime of a newly-diagnosed Type 2 diabetic in 2012 dollars.

Included in the study were the cost of medications, physician visits, self-testing devices as well as the cost of medical complications including neuropathy, foot ulcers, eye problems, and cardiovascular issues.

Perhaps not a surprise, complications from diabetes accounted for between 48 and 64 percent of lifetime medical costs. Of those, 57 percent were spent on treating cardiovascular issues.

Women experienced greater costs than men; this may be explained because women generally live longer.

For the specific cost information by disease state, a table is provided within the study itself.

Why Is This Meaningful for Patient and Caregiver?

In the study's conclusion, researchers challenged the medical profession to find effective interventions that prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes and complications.

Setting aside what type 2 diabetes does physically and emotionally, imagine how better glycemic control or prevention before it begins could affect personal and societal health care costs.

Researchers noted that of the 26 million Americans with diabetes, today some 90 percent of them have type 2.

If the prevalence of diabetes continues to rise among younger people, the long-term economic consequences will also be greater.

The takeaway message is for all of us — patients, caregivers, medical professionals or shapers of public health policy. Prevention and management programs may offer a disease-free life to millions, with a huge reduction in the cost — personal and financial.

To learn more about this topic:

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