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Diabetes patients cost $10,000 more annually, claims data shows

Medication makes treatment convenient but adds to costs

It costs $10,000 more annually to treat Americans with diabetes than it does to treat those without the chronic disease, according to a Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) analysis of claims data.

HCCI examined claims data from 2009 to 2013 for nearly 40 million Americans under the age of 65 covered by employer-sponsored health plans. As of 2013, the annual per capita cost of treating someone with diabetes was $14,999, compared to $4,305 for individuals without diabetes. HCCI found the highest treatment costs among patients ages 55 to 64 ($16,889) and under 18 ($15,456). Meanwhile, out-of-pocket costs exceeded $1,900 for those with diabetes, compared to $738 for all other patients.

Amanda Frost, an HCCI researcher, told Forbes that spending on anti-diabetic medication and insulin in particular drives this spending. These types of medication make it easier for patients with diabetes to manage their condition, but they also add to treatment costs, Forbes said.

Insurers' efforts to reduce the cost of treating diabetes increasingly focus on avoiding complications, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. The cost of covering members with diabetes as well as related complications--which range from heart disease and stroke to kidney failure and vision loss--can easily exceed $20,000.

Early diagnosis of diabetes represents one way to reduce the likelihood of such complications, as it allows diabetes treatment to begin sooner. The Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion appears to have led to more diabetes diagnoses, as Americans who have obtained insurance for the first time have been tested for diabetes and other conditions. This could increase short-term treatment costs but also lead to better long-term outcomes, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

For more:
read the HCCI report (.pdf)
here's the Forbes article

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