The U.S. Can’t Afford Not to Have a Cure for Diabetes

A person with diabetes knows that managing this chronic condition can take up a large chunk of one’s personal budget. It’s a bit harder to picture how much diabetes costs the entire U.S. economy, but the thought exercise is eye-opening.

Read more: Health Costs for People with Diabetes 3.6 Times More Than Average

Here are some statistics to put the enormity of managing diabetes into perspective.

According to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, the national health care expenditure, in total, for 2014 was $3 trillion, growing 5.3 percent for the year, and making up 17.5 percent of the 2014 gross domestic product (“GDP”). Prescription drug spending grew 12.2 percent, while hospital spending grew 4.1 percent. A July 2016 Associated Press story projected the 2016 spending at $3.35 trillion, slightly below the number projected by CMS.


According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), people with diabetes account for one-fifth of the annual U.S. health care expenditure and one-third of Medicare expenditures, or $600 billion a year. The biggest expense, by far, was hospital inpatient care and residential extended care services, which makes up 51 percent of that expense. Medicines to treat complications of diabetes in addition to glucose control medications and testing supplies make up 30 percent of that expense and visits with physicians make up 9 percent.


The ADA finds that people who manage their diabetes spend 3.9 times more for health care than people who don’t have diabetes. In July, the PBS NewsHour aired a story projecting annual per capita expense for all Americans at $10,345. The per capita annual expense for diabetes care, based on 2014 CDC projections, will come in much higher — at $16,021.


Through 2025, health care spending, per capita, is projected to grow by 4.8% a year, 1.3% faster than GDP. (Source: CMS). If this curve holds true, 20.1% of GDP in 2025 will be attributable to health care services and prescription medications.

Read more: The Rising Cost of Living with Diabetes

Such data seems to suggest that if the government wants to curb healthcare costs, it should put at least some focus on cure research. Managing a chronic condition is expensive for everyone. Stopping the condition from being chronic, even if it costs billions of dollars to do, might be cheaper in the long run.

Craig Idlebrook contributed to this report.

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Jim Cahill is a former staff writer for Insulin Nation and a former editor of Type 2 nation.

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