Diabetes is a costly and chronic disease
Prevalence of Diabetes Growing: Chronic, Costly, and Deadly Disease Takes Toll on Patients and Payers
Oct 15

If you attended edHEALTH’s Annual Meeting, you saw the visual impact of diabetes in the United States. The prevalence has skyrocketed between 1990s and today, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Today:

  • Diabetes prevalence: An estimated 30.3 million people have diabetes (9.4 percent of the U.S. population – an increase of 44% since 1998)
  • Pre-diabetes prevalence: An estimated 84.1 million people (more than 1 out of 3 adults) have pre-diabetes: 9 out of 10 don’t know they have it.

Diabetes, which occurs when blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. The main types of diabetes are type 1 (also called Juvenile Diabetes where the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas), type 2 (as well as prediabetes where cells become resistant to the action of insulin), and gestational (in pregnancy, too little glucose gets into the mother’s cells and too much stays in her blood).

Complications of Diabetes

High blood sugar can cause health problems over time. According to Mayo Health Clinic, patients with diabetes have an increased risk of:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Eye damage
  • Hearing loss
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Foot damage
  • Skin Conditions
  • Depression

Staggering Costs

In addition to poor quality of life and difficulty navigating the disease, patients can incur costly medical expenses. The economic costs of diabetes are staggering (source: American Diabetes Association):

  • 1 in every 4 US health care dollars spent (24%) was for the care of people with diabetes
  • $237 billion in direct costs
    • Hospital care (30%)
    • Medications for complications of diabetes (30%)
    • Anti-diabetic agents and diabetes supplies (15%)
    • Physician office visits (13%)
  • Direct medical costs represent a 26% increase (combination of cost/person and prevalence) since 2012

Population Health Programs Positively Affect Quality and Outcomes

Nearly one-quarter of patients with diabetes aren’t achieving their care goals, including blood sugar target, cholesterol level, and annual eye and foot exams, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Population care for diabetes that uses effective principles of care management can have a significant impact on diabetes quality and outcomes of care, according to a 2017 study published by the National Institutes of Health’s journal literature.

Recognizing that diabetes care management is a critical population health need, edHEALTH recently introduced a diabetes care management program with Stability Health. The program provides expert clinicians who use proprietary tools, technology, and support services to help people with diabetes and their providers manage the disease and improve quality of life. 

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