Perspectives Blog

The dollars and sense of diabetes costs

July 30, 2019

When you hear about the costs of diabetes, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? The stories of people having trouble affording their medicines. We know it’s hard for a lot of people, and that more needs to be done. What you may not know is that the cost issues associated with diabetes go beyond the price people pay at the pharmacy counter. The economic burden of diabetes in the U.S. is stark, and two recent studies are shedding light on the problem.  

The first, published in Diabetes Care in 2018, looked at the cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2017, which was calculated at approximately $327 billion. The second, sponsored by Novo Nordisk and published in Diabetes Care in 2019*, builds on the first and gives a broader, more complete total cost estimate for diabetes in 2017 of $404 billion. 

That includes approximately:

  • $327 billion for diagnosed diabetes
  • $32 billion for undiagnosed diabetes
  • $43 billion for prediabetes
  • $2 billion for gestational diabetes

Nearly a quarter of the $404 billion total is for “indirect costs” – things such as not showing up to work because of diabetes, diminished productivity, inability to work due to disability, and lost economic contributions compared with adults who don’t have diabetes or prediabetes.

And whether you have diabetes or not, you’re paying a price. We all are. In fact, diabetes cost every American $1,240 in 2017.

Now you’re probably wondering: Will these costs continue to rise?

According to the Diabetes 2030 study, yes – up to $622 billion in a little more than the next ten years. But fewer new cases of diabetes could contribute to reduced costs, as could more and improved efforts to educate people with diabetes in better self-care.

Like our approach to help people with diabetes better afford their medicines, collaboration at national, state, and city levels will be key in lowering the economic burden of diabetes in the U.S. For example:

* Funding for this study was provided by Novo Nordisk Inc. Two of the study’s authors, who also wrote this article, are Novo Nordisk employees.