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The cost of treating diabetes surges

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, according to reports released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The rising costs of prescription drugs accounted for much of the cost increase. For an adult with diabetes, the average annual spending for prescription medicines jumped nearly 86 percent during the time period, from $476 to $883. Patients aged 45 to 64, for whom drug costs doubled, were the age group most dramatically affected. The Federal reports also found:

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

For more information, see Proportion and Medical Expenditures of Adults Being Treated for Diabetes, 1996 and 2003, MEPS Statistical Brief #146, online at [PDF Help] and Hospital Stays Among Patients with Diabetes, 2004, HCUP Statistical Brief #17 at

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