Costly Care for Diabetes

Diabetes care costs increased with poorer blood sugar control and worsening kidney function

January 2, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Living with diabetes means more than changing your lifestyle. Diabetes can also be a huge drain on your pocketbook. Diabetes can become even more costly when it starts to affect the kidneys.

Caring for people with diabetes can be expensive. Results from a recent study showed that the cost of diabetes care may go up when patients have poor blood sugar control and kidney damage.

Researchers found that diabetes may cost nearly $27,000 over 5 years, even before the cost of drugs.

"Control your diabetes to help lower healthcare costs."

Diabetes is a chronic disease, meaning it can last for years or a lifetime. Managing any chronic disease can be both time-consuming and costly.

Fiona Clement, PhD, of the University of Calgary in Canada, and colleagues wanted to see if blood sugar control and kidney problems could affect the costs of caring for people with diabetes.

They found that the 5-year cost of diabetes was about $26,978 per patient, not including the cost of drugs. Among patients over the age of 65, the 5-year cost of diabetes care was about $44,511 including drug costs.

Results showed that the cost of diabetes increased if patients had:

  • worsening kidney function
  • proteinuria - a sign of kidney damage in which high levels of protein build up in the urine
  • HbA1c over 7.9 percent

HbA1c is a measure of blood sugar over the past 3 months. An HbA1c of less than 5.7 percent is considered normal. People with levels of 6.5 percent or higher are diagnosed with diabetes. While managing diabetes, patients are often given the goal to keep levels at 7 percent or below.

The researchers also found that older age, being Aboriginal (native), socioeconomic status, length of time living with diabetes and living with other diseases were associated with increased cost of care.

According to the authors, the cost of caring for people with diabetes is substantial and is linked to poor blood sugar control, poor kidney function and proteinuria.

The authors concluded that future studies should see if improvements in diabetes care could lower costs.

The study - which included 138,662 diabetes patients - was published December 13 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.