Patients With Diabetes Spend $10K More a Year Than Patients Without Diabetes

New Health Care Cost Institute report analyzed how much money is spent on children and adults with diabetes, where the money goes, and how that compares to individuals who do not have diabetes.

Diabetes has always been known to be a costly chronic disease; however, a new study found that patients with diabetes spend significantly more money than individuals who do not have the disease. A report recently released by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) discovered that per capita spending among individuals with diabetes was $10,000 greater than those without.

The report, which examined healthcare claims from 2014 of more than 40 million Americans under the age of 65 and who were covered by employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), sought to understand just how much is spent on both children and adults with diabetes, where the money goes, and how that compares to individuals who do not have diabetes. Researchers discovered that diabetes spending capped at a total of $16,021 per capita in 2014, which increased from 2013 by $897.

Researchers also discovered that an increase in the number of emergency room (ER) visits and use of prescriptions drove the increase in spending for patients with diabetes. The number of ER visits rose at an annual rate of 8.1% and the use of prescriptions by 8.7% among patients with diabetes from the year 2012 to 2014.

“Understanding how and where we spend healthcare dollars for people with diabetes is the first step in assessing how well the healthcare system is working and where improvements can be made,” said Amanda Frost, HCCI Senior Researcher, in a statement.

In comparison to those who do not have diabetes, the study authors found a significant gap in the use of prescriptions and the number of doctor visits. Patients with diabetes on average took 3 medications per day and were 7 times more likely to be taking heart medications than patients without the disease. Additionally, the number of mental health visits by young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 and who had diabetes was 4 times higher than young adults who did not.

Furthermore, the report found that patients with diabetes spent 2 and a half times more money on out-of-pocket costs than those who didn’t have diabetes. During the 2014 study period, patients with diabetes covered through ESI spent on average $1944 out of pocket per capita as compared to $752 for individuals without diabetes. And for children, the numbers were even higher. On average, out-of-pocket spending totaled about $2173 per child and one-third of this number was due to prescriptions, which came in at $751 per child.

The number of individuals with diabetes who were covered with ESI accounted for only 5% of the entire ESI population in 2014, yet spending among this group was still significantly higher than for patients without diabetes.

“This report examines the patterns of care for people with diabetes,” said David Newman, HCCI Executive Director, in a statement. “By looking beyond treatment for diabetes we can see what other health issues people with diabetes are facing—such as heart disease—so that the healthcare system might better address those complex needs.”