In the next 25 years, spending on diabetes will almost triple, rising from $113 billion to $336 billion, even with no increase in the prevalence of obesity.
And, the number of Americans living with diabetes will nearly double, increasing from 23.7 million in 2009 to 44.1 million in 2034.
The study by researchers based at the University of Chicago reported it in the December issue of Diabetes Care.
The number of those with diabetes covered by Medicare will rise from 8.2 million to 14.6 million, the researchers predict. Medicare spending on diabetes will jump from $45 billion to $171 billion.
“If we don’t change our diet and exercise habits or find new, more effective and less expensive ways to prevent and treat diabetes, we will find ourselves in a lot of trouble as a population,” said the study’s lead author Elbert Huang, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago.
“Without significant changes in public or private strategies,” the authors wrote, “this population and cost growth are expected to add a significant strain to an overburdened health care system.”
The new estimates are far more rigorous, and more troubling, than previous predictions.
– A 1991 study stated that the number of Americans with diabetes would double, from 6.5 million in 1987 to 11.6 million by 2030, which, as it turns out, is less than half the number of cases in 2009. “These projections stress the importance of prevention and education,” the authors declare. “The requisite change in life style, exercise, or nutrition habits will be more difficult than if a drug is developed for treatment.”
– A 1998 study foretold more cases sooner: 22 million US cases by 2025. “Worldwide surveillance of diabetes is a necessary first step towards its prevention and control, which is now recognized as an urgent priority.”
– A 2001 study predicted 29 million cases by 2050. The authors of that study warned that their projection may be “more alarming than previously believed,” adding that the “economic cost of diabetes is already staggering.”
– A retrospective 2008 study confirmed the predicted trends, showing that the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes rose steadily from 10 million in 1994, to 14 million in 2000, to 19 million in 2007, and the annual cost–just for drugs–for people affected by diabetes nearly doubled in six years, rising from $6.7 billion in 2001 to $12.5 billion in 2007.
Source: University of Chicago Medical Center, USA