Cost of Care for Youth with Diabetes is Six Times Higher than for Youth Without the Disease
Much of the extra medical costs come from prescription drugs and outpatient care, according to CDC study.
Young people with diabetes face substantially higher medical costs than children and teens without the disease, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published in the May issue of the journal Diabetes Care. The study found annual medical expenses for youth with diabetes are $9,061, compared to $1,468 for youth without the disease.
Much of the extra medical costs come from prescription drugs and outpatient care, CDC reported. Young people with the highest medical costs were treated with insulin, and included all those with type 1 diabetes and some with type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin and must receive insulin treatment. Some people with type 2 diabetes also are treated with insulin, because their bodies do not produce enough insulin to control blood glucose (sugar).
Children and adolescents who received insulin treatment had annual medical costs of $9,333, compared to $5,683 for those who did not receive insulin, but did take oral medications to control blood glucose, the report stated.
"Young people with diabetes face medical costs that are six times higher than their peers without diabetes," said Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director of CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation. "Most youth with diabetes need insulin to survive and the medical costs for young people on insulin [are] almost 65 percent higher than for those who [do] not require insulin to treat their diabetes."
The study examined medical costs for children and teens aged 19 years or younger who were covered by employer-sponsored private health insurance plans in 2007, using the MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters Database. The estimates were based on administrative claim data from nearly 50,000 youth, including 8,226 with diabetes.
Medical costs for people with diabetes, the vast majority of whom are adults, are 2.3 times higher than costs for those without diabetes, according to CDC's National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2011. Authors of the Diabetes Care study suggest that the difference in medical costs associated with diabetes may be greater for youth than for adults because of higher medication expenses, visits to specialists and medical supplies such as insulin syringes and glucose testing strips.
Among youth with diabetes, 92 percent were on insulin, compared to 26 percent of adults with diabetes. Without adequate insulin, blood glucose levels rise and can eventually lead to serious health complications, including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage and amputation of feet and legs.