Americans have spent billions treating diabetes

The costs include the direct treatment of diabetics and lost economic activity

Americans’ wallets take a serious hit from the treatment of diabetes.

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The American Diabetes Association estimates that treating type 1 and type 2 diabetes cost $327 billion in 2017, according to a study commissioned by the organization. The figure represents a concerning 26 percent increase from the previous estimate of $245 billion, which used data from 2012.

Of that total, $237 billion is attributed to direct medical expenses, the ADA says. Major contributors to that number are hospital inpatient care and prescription medications, each of which accounted for 30 percent of direct spending.

Antidiabetic agents and diabetic-specific supplies represent 15 percent of costs, and visits to the physician’s office added up to account for 13 percent. But the buck doesn’t stop there.

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Diabetes costs the U.S. economy another $90 billion from lost economic productivity, according to the study. Sources of the deficit caused by diabetic complications include absenteeism, reduced productivity at work, inability to work and early mortality.

Breaking costs down to an individual basis doesn't make the pill any easier to swallow.

“People with diagnosed diabetes incur average medical expenditures of $16,752 per year,” according to the ADA. “On average. people with diagnosed diabetes have medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.”

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The monetary cost, while staggering, only tells a small part of the story. According to 2015 data, the ADA estimates that 76 percent of more than 30 million American with diabetes are diagnosed, which means that about 7 million Americans' healthcare costs are outside the scope of its report.

The study also cannot account for the qualitative effects of the disease, as the ADA notes.

Other societal costs add to the financial burden such as factors from pain and suffering, resources from care provided by non-paid caregivers and the burden associated with undiagnosed diabetes.

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