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Cost of Treating Diabetes Surges

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: November 16, 2006

The cost of caring for U.S. adults with diabetes rose sharply between 1996 and 2003, a period in which the number of patients soared from 9.9 million to 13.7 million and the average annual inflation-adjusted treatment costs rose from $1,299 to $1,714 per person, according to reports released today by the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The rising costs of prescription drugs accounted for much of the cost increase. An adult diabetic's average annual spending for prescription medicines jumped nearly 86 percent during the same time period, from $476 to $883. Patients aged 45 to 64 years—for whom drug costs doubled—were the age group most dramatically affected.

The Federal report also found:

  • Overall, hospitals spent $58 billion in 2004 on the 6 million stays of patients diagnosed with diabetes. That cost is 20 percent of the total amount spent by hospitals that year on the 38.6 million patient stays.
  • Diabetes patients showed a trend toward longer hospitalizations than other patients. Uninsured diabetes patients with less access to care were more likely to be admitted principally to have their diabetes treated than were insured patients.
  • The number of foot or lower leg amputations per 1,000 hospital stays of diabetes patients was twice as high for the uninsured and more than two times higher for men than for women.
  • Overall care for patients with diabetes—including treatment in all settings and for other related illnesses such as congestive heart failure—averaged more than $10,000 per person annually.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on two data analyses: Proportion and Medical Expenditures of Adults Being Treated for Diabetes, 1996 and 2003, MEPS Statistical Brief No. 146, and Hospital Stays among Patients with Diabetes, 2004, HCUP Statistical Brief No. 17 (PDF Help).

To speak with an AHRQ data expert, or for information from previous AHRQ News and Numbers summaries, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of November 2006


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