VIH: Diabetes racked up $170B in hospital charges in 2005

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In 2005, Americans with diabetes had 3.5 times more hospital admissions than those without diabetes, and generated nearly 22 percent more ($171 billion) in hospital charges, according to new study published online in the January/February issue of Value in Health.

The researchers found these results despite the fact that only 7 percent of the U.S. population had diabetes in 2005. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that diabetes is rapidly rising, projected to increase 165 percent by 2050 in the U.S.

“The baby boomer generation is getting older and more Americans are becoming overweight or obese and diabetes is also likely to continue to increase,” said the study’s co-author Sunny Kim of Florida International University in Miami. “Therefore, an increase in demand for hospital care and increasing financial burdens is anticipated.”

Due to the disproportionate number of hospitalizations associated with individuals with diabetes, the researchers said that a small increase in the number of patients will greatly increase the demand for inpatient care and healthcare communities should prepare for that demand, as well as increasing financial burdens.

Kim and colleagues found that the relative impact of diabetes on hospitalizations is greater among adults aged 20 to 49 years old, who are 3.6 times more likely to be hospitalized than their non-diabetic counterparts, compared with individuals with diabetes over the age of 60, who are 1.4 times more likely to be hospitalized.

Among those aged 60 years or older, hospitalizations were equally frequent among diabetic and non-diabetic individuals, according to the authors.

Additionally, they found individuals with type 1 diabetes were more likely to be hospitalized than those with type 2 diabetes, which was “an unexpected finding as type 1 diabetes is relatively uncommon compared to type 2 among the elderly.”

Because diabetes management relies heavily on ambulatory care, the authors concluded that improved accessibility to primary healthcare and patient education particularly targeted toward children and younger adults would reduce hospitalizations for both short-term and long-term diabetes complications.