Diabetes Ranked Costliest Disease in the United States

Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
Diabetes health care spending is more expensive than any other disease in the United States, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For 18 years, investigators from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation tracked the costs associated with 155 diseases, according to CNBC. The results of the study showed that of the 155, only 20 accounted for over half of all medical expenditures.

In terms of total dollars spent nationwide, diabetes was the most expensive condition. In 2013, $101 billion was spent in diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. In that same year, the second-largest source of expenses was ischemic heart disease, which cost a total of $88 billion.

The results of the study indicated that diabetes-related costs have increased 36 times faster than for ischemic heart disease, which kills more individuals than any other condition, according to CNBC.

During this time period, several factors drove diabetes spending, including the aging American population, which is more susceptible to disease, said lead study author Joseph Dieleman. Additionally, the prevalence is higher overall, due to dietary and lifestyle changes. Health professionals are also treating diabetes more aggressively than ever before.

The primary goal of the study was to map out specific conditions that drive spending and to identify the areas that could be improved, according to CNBC.

“So often the total amount [of] money we spend on health care gets thrown around, and our sense was there is not as much information on what that money is actually spent on,” Dieleman told CNBC.

Often times, individuals believe that conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease are what are soaking up the greatest sums. However, injuries from falling, or pregnancy and postpartum care are just as big of expenses.

“It is really some of the more mundane conditions that are driving spending,” Dieleman said.

In the United States, combined low back and neck pain are the third largest source of medical spending.

The study included spending from government and commercial insurance plans, as well as out-of-pocket expenses, according to CNBC.

On the whole, the results of the study showed that Americans spent approximately $2.4 trillion on health care in 2013. Women older than 85 years spent the highest amount—about $31,000—whereas while men who were around the same age spent about $24,000.

The following were the top 10 costliest health conditions in the United States in 2013:
  1. Diabetes: $101.4
  2. Ischemic heart disease: $88.1
  3. Low back and neck pain: $87.6
  4. Hypertension: $83.9
  5. Injuries from falls $76.3
  6. Depressive disorders: $71.1
  7. Oral-relate problems: $66.4
  8. Vision and hearing problems: $59
  9. Skin-related problems, such as cellulitis and acne: $55.7
  10. Pregnancy and postpartum care: $55.6

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