Health Costs for People with Diabetes is 3.6 Times More than Average

A new study confirms what many with diabetes have known all along – that staying healthy comes at a steep price. Researchers with the Health Care Cost Institute found that health care costs for people with diabetes on private insurance plans was about 3.6 times more than health care costs for those without diabetes.

Health care spending was highest for adults with diabetes in the 55-65 age bracket, but the second-highest spending was for children with diabetes, ages 0-18. Young adults, ages 19-25, landed in third place. Children with diabetes had the most spent on their prescriptions – about $6,000 a year annually.

Of course, insurance only covers so much. According to a report in Kaiser Health News, parents of children with diabetes spent an average of $2,173 for out-of-pocket costs in 2014. The study also found that overall out-of-pocket expenses increased modestly by $10 between the first year and the second year for all age groups.

The study examined trends in health care utilization and spending between 2012 and 2014. The data was collected from those aged 65 and younger who were covered by employer-sponsored insurance. Researchers then compared costs for those with diabetes and those without. The study report did not distinguish between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

An older study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that out-of-pocket expenses actually decreased for people with diabetes on Medicare and Medicaid over a 10-year-period. According to a Reuters report, people with diabetes on these two public insurance programs saw decreased out-of-pocket spending between 2001 and 2011. Researchers found that the percentage of people with diabetes on these programs who faced a “high expense burden” shrank from 28 percent to 23 percent during that period.

They attributed this savings to reduced prescription drug costs, but one has to assume those reduced prices were mainly for drugs other than insulin, which has increased rapidly in price in the last decade. During the same period, those on private insurance saw their out-of-pocket expenses rise.

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Ashley Lambert is a recent Suffolk University graduate. While at Suffolk she studied communication and media studies.

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