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Preventing Diabetes Complications Could Save $2.5 Billion Annually

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Press Release Date: March 1, 2005

A new research synthesis from HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that the nation could save nearly $2.5 billion a year by preventing hospitalizations due to severe diabetes complications.

Diabetes, an increasingly common chronic disease, currently affects 18 million Americans, or about 6 percent of the population. Complications from the disease that may require hospitalization include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, as well as nerve and blood circulation problems that can lead to lower limb amputations. Complications can often be prevented or delayed with good primary care and compliance with the advice from providers. According to the research synthesis:

  • Reducing hospital admissions for diabetes complications could save the Medicare program $1.3 billion annually and Medicaid $386 million a year.
  • Nearly one-third of patients with diabetes were hospitalized two or more times in 2001 for diabetes or related conditions, and their costs averaged three times higher than those for patients with single hospital stays—$23,100 versus $8,500. 
  • The risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular disease was two to four times higher in women with diabetes than in those who did not have diabetes.
  • African-American, other minority, and poor patients regardless of race or ethnicity were more likely to be hospitalized multiple times for diabetes complications than non-Hispanic white and higher income patients.

"These findings highlight the importance of carefully monitoring people with diabetes who have a prior admission for the disease to prevent repeat hospitalizations, improving the care of diabetic patients who also suffer from cardiovascular disease and enhancing treatment for minorities and low-income patients," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.

Economic and Health Costs of Diabetes summarizes findings of studies that were based on 2001 data from AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. To access a copy online, go to For a printed copy, call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at (800) 358-9295 or send an E-mail to

Editor's Note: Another tool, Diabetes Care Quality Improvement: A Resource Guide for State Action, and its companion workbook were published recently by AHRQ to help state legislators, health departments, diabetes prevention and control programs and Medicaid officials assess the quality of diabetes at the primary care level and develop improvement strategies. The resources, which were developed in partnership with the Council of State Governments, can be found online at

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1539 or (301) 427-1865.


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