Diabetes cost the U.S. roughly $245 billion in 2012

Budget crisis

Diabetes is an incredibly serious illness in our country.

For years, it’s been one of the deadliest and most problematic diseases affecting our population. And yet, more often than not, other conditions take center stage in the national dialogue.

It’s high time diabetes started getting its share of the spotlight. And here’s why:

A new report from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) showed that diabetes cost the U.S. roughly $245 billion in 2012. And that’s just the bill run up by people who we know have the disease.

This new cost report is the ADA’s first update since 2007. It looked at how much of the country’s health resources have been used on diabetes–along with less defined expenditures like lost work productivity and indirect costs.

Needless to say, the figures are staggering.

It seems that roughly 22.3 million people were living with diabetes in 2012. That’s about 7 percent of the entire U.S. population–and 5 million more people than just five years ago.

After adjusting for age and sex, researchers found that the yearly healthcare price tag was almost two-and-a-half times higher for diabetics than non-diabetics. And total costs jumped up a shocking 41 percent since the ADA’s last estimate in 2007.

The new $245 billion price tag includes $176 billion in direct medical costs (things like hospital and emergency care, doctor’s visits, and prescription drugs). But the indirect cost of diabetes wasn’t exactly cheap either, racking up a $69 billion tab in workplace absenteeism, lost productivity, and early death.

This is an incredible epidemic that’s driving healthcare expenditures through the proverbial roof. And something must be done to stop it.

But the issues behind it cut across so many territories that, in all honesty, this isn’t a battle we’re going to win anytime soon. Not without some major changes.

There are just too many special interest groups for the current diabetes crisis to be easy to overcome. From the sugar industry to the food manufacturers, all the way to the pharmaceutical industry. (Which you know is thrilled to have so many new users for their products.)

Sadly, half of all Americans over the age of 65 are at risk of type 2 diabetes. And one-third of these seniors have been diagnosed. So it’s no surprise that this country spends one out of every three Medicare dollars on diabetes.

Those golden years certainly look a lot less golden from where I sit behind my computer.

But if we could prevent the disease and come up with better treatments, we could make a major impact. Not only on people’s lives, but also on the future of our country’s social safety nets.

And this isn’t some pipe dream, either. It’s perfectly possible. You know why? Because diabetes is not a disease that just “happens.”

Yes, type 1 diabetes is an unavoidable condition. But that’s not the type of diabetes we’re talking about here.

We’re talking about type 2 diabetes–in other words, the type that you eat yourself into.

So enough with the handwringing and statistic reporting already. How about we put our mouths where our money is, and start eating ourselves back out of this mess?

If everyone followed my New Hamptons Health Miracle, it really could be that simple.

“New Report Says Diabetes Cost the United States $245 Billion in 2012.” Medscape. Mar 06, 2013.