Diabetes Takes Biggest Bite Out Of United States Health Care Spending

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Dec 29, 2016 11:52 AM EST

(Photo : Rick Gershon/ Staff )

Talk about diseases, you will definitely find diabetes widespread in United States. Topping the list of just 20 diseases. It accounts for more than half of all spending on health care, according to a new comprehensive financial analysis.

U.S. spending on diabetes diagnosis and treatment totaled $101 billion in 2013, and has grown 36 times faster than spending on heart disease, the country's topmost  cause of death, researchers reported.

"After adjusting for inflation, we see that every year the U.S. is spending 6 percent more than we spent the year before on diabetes," said lead researcher Joseph Dieleman, assistant professor at the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

"That's really a remarkable growth rate, notably faster than the economy is growing or health care spending as a whole," he said.

The annual rate of growth in health care spending between 1996 and 2013 has been 3.5 percent on average, Dieleman noted.

"Spending on diabetes grew twice as fast as all conditions combined" during that 18-year period, he said.

The study findings were published in the Dec. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"That is a staggering, almost unimaginable amount," Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel wrote in an editorial accompanying the new study. 

"Indeed, this level of spending makes the U.S. health care system the fifth largest economy in the world, behind only the U.S., Chinese, Japanese and German national economies," Emanuel pointed out.

Dieleman and his colleagues broke down the $2.1 trillion spent in 2013 across 155 different health conditions, to see which diseases were drawing in the most dollars.

The top 10 most costly health expenses in 2013, according to the analysis, were:

  • Diabetes -- $101.4 billion.
  • Ischemic heart disease -- $88.1 billion.
  • Low back and neck pain -- $87.6 billion.
  • High blood pressure -- $83.9 billion.
  • Injuries from falls -- $76.3 billion.
  • Depression -- $71.1 billion.
  • Dental care -- $66.4 billion.
  • Vision and hearing problems -- $59 billion.
  • Skin-related problems -- $55.7 billion.
  • Pregnancy and postpartum care -- $55.6 billion.

From the  list it is quite evident, how widespread the disease is? 

"There are things on that list that, when we think of health care, they're not necessarily the things the average American would think of," Dieleman said.

The first five conditions alone comprised 18 percent of all personal health care spending and totaled $437 billion in 2013, the researchers noted.

More Information

For more on health care spending in the United States, visit the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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