American Epidemic: Rise In Diabetes Rate Is The ‘Main Driver’ Of Increased U.S. Medical Costs

The reality of America’s obesity and diabetes epidemics and their resulting effects on national health care costs have been well-established — and on Thursday, a new report revealed that the public health crisis has gotten even worse in the last decade.

According to the report by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), direct and indirect health care costs associated with diabetes rose from $174 billion in 2007 to $245 billion in 2012 — an increase of 41 percent over 5 years. Only a little bit of that can be attributable to general medical inflation, which has actually been slowing down in the last couple of years. The sheer scope of the increase indicates that more and more Americans are falling prey to the disease — and it’s taking a clear toll on U.S. health care spending:

“As the number of people with diabetes grows, so does the economic burden it places on this country,” [said ADA’s Chief Scientific & Medical Officer, Robert Ratner, in a statement.]

The study finds that medical expenditure for people with diabetes is about 2.3 times higher than for people who don’t have the disease and that the main driver of the increased overall financial burden on the country is the rise in proportion of the population that has the disease.


“The cost of diabetes is rising at a rate higher than overall medical costs with more than one in 10 health care dollars in the country being spent directly on diabetes and its complications, and more than one in five health care dollars in the US going to the care of people with diagnosed diabetes,” says Ratner.

Diabetes and obesity-related illnesses tend to disproportionately affect populations that are also on government-subsidized health programs — especially low-income Americans — and made up anywhere between 10 and 12 percent of all health insurance spending back in 2006. Considering the new report’s findings, that number has probably ballooned further. The study found that 64 percent of diabetes-related care, specifically, was funded by Medicare, Medicaid, and military health care programs.