The Cost to Health Care Sector from Diabetic Complications

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Diabetes Costs Worldwide

The cost to the health care sector from diabetic complications is a worldwide problem causing roughly $700 billion in healthcare costs globally.

Recognizing that diabetes is a global epidemic of chronic disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) states several statistics regarding diabetes around the world, including an estimation that, “in the period 2006-2015, China will lose $558 billion in foregone national income due to heart disease, stroke and diabetes alone.”

Kate Devlin, a medical correspondent for the UK’s Telegraph, noted that the cost of prescriptions used to help manage diabetes have almost doubled in six years. She noted that while over two million people living in Great Britain have diabetes, there may be approximately an additional 350,000 people who have the disease but are undiagnosed. This could significantly add to the expenses related to diabetes. It is predicted that four million people living in Great Britain may have diabetes by the year 2050.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that the country’s cost of diabetes if roughly $174 billion each year.

Cutting the Waste

In a white paper published by Thomson Reuters in 2009, points were raised as to where waste could be eliminated from the U.S. Healthcare system. It should be noted that the paper comes with a caveat in stating that “The New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI) has defined waste in healthcare as “Healthcare spending that can be eliminated without reducing the quality of care.” Some of the areas of waste included administration, paperwork, fraud, preventable conditions and provider inefficiency and errors.

Under the category of preventable conditions, it is stated that, “For example, research shows that 7.2 hospital admissions per every 10,000 people aged 18 to 64 in the United States are for uncontrolled diabetes. A goal of Healthy People 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) roadmap for improving Americans’ health, is to reduce hospitalization rates for uncontrolled diabetes for persons in this age bracket to 5.4 per 10,000 people, which health experts agree can be accomplished by improving the quality of outpatient diabetes care and access to such services.”


The cost to health care sector from diabetic complications is staggering not just due to the prevalence of the disease itself, but also from waste, as evidenced by the research cited by the Thomson Reuters white paper.


Diabetes. World Health Organization (WHO).

Cost of Diabetes Prescriptions ‘almost doubled in the past six years’. Kate Devlin, Medical Correspondent. June 12, 2009.

Studies on the Cost of Diabetes. Thomas J. Songer, PhD, MSc; Lorrain Ettaro, BS; and the Economics of Diabetes Project Panel. Prepared for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). June 1998.

Diabetes Mellitus. Jean-Claude Mbanya and Kaushik Ramiaya. NCBI bookshelf. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health.

White Paper: Where Can $700 Billion in Waste be Cut Annually from the U.S. Healthcare System? Thomson Reuters. October 2009.