Arlington, Virginia - The American Diabetes Association (ADA) released its new “Economics of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2017” (Economic Costs of Diabetes) report, detailing the fiscal impact of diabetes on American citizens individually and on the nation as a whole. Diabetes is now the most costly chronic illness in the country, with diagnosed diabetes expenses in the U.S. totaling $327 billion in 2017.

The data indicate one of every four health care dollars is incurred by someone with diagnosed diabetes, and one of every seven health care dollars is spent directly treating diabetes and its complications. The Economic Costs of Diabetes report’s release kicked off the ADA’s annual Call to Congress advocacy event, with including more than 150 diabetes advocates, researcher and professional football players who held 179 meetings with members of Congress and staff urging them to make diabetes a national priority.

ADA’s Chief Scientific, Medical and Mission Officer William T. Cefalu, MD, presented the key findings of the Economic Costs of Diabetes report at a press conference on Capitol Hill this morning. 

Most notably, the report revealed that the economic costs of diabetes increased 26 percent from 2012 to 2017, due to both the increased prevalence of the disease and the increased cost per person living with diabetes. These costs include $237 billion in direct medical costs for diagnosed diabetes and $90 billion in reduced productivity. The largest contributors to the cost of diabetes are higher use of prescription medications beyond diabetes medications ($71.2 billion); higher use of hospital inpatient services ($69.7 billion); medications (oral agents and insulin) and supplies to directly treat diabetes ($34.6 billion), and more office visits to physicians and other health providers ($30 billion). These costs are passed on to all Americans in the form of higher medical costs, higher insurance premiums and taxes, reduced earnings, lost productivity, premature mortality, and intangible costs in the form of reduced quality of life. 

“From our new economics report, it is very clear that diabetes bears a significant impact on our nation, both in its toll on the lives of the millions affected by it, and the economic costs for all,” said Dr. Cefalu. “$327 billion in annual costs for diabetes are a substantial burden on our society! Together with advocates from around the country, we met with leaders on Capitol Hill today to urge Congress to make diabetes a national priority. The most important solution we have is continued and increased investment in critical diabetes research, care and prevention to improve diagnosis and treatment, and to help us turn the tide through diabetes prevention. These efforts can help us to improve health outcomes for people with diabetes – and hopefully decrease the cost of diabetes.” 

Dr. Cefalu was joined by the co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who spoke about their efforts to support people with diabetes and their continued commitment to ensuring federal funding for diabetes research and programs. ADA’s 2018 President of Science and Medicine Jane E.B. Reusch, MD, highlighted the importance of substantial investments in diabetes research in the wake of the sobering insights from the Economic Costs of Diabetes report. Dr. Reusch is Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry and Bioengineering and Associate Director of the Center for Women’s Health Research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Martha P. Clark, MBA, the ADA’s interim CEO, who has lived with type1 diabetes for more than four decades, echoed Reusch’s urgent call for our nation’s leaders to take action and change the trajectory of the diabetes epidemic.

Throughout the rest of the day today, ADA leaders, diabetes advocates and professional football players from around the country met with their members of Congress to share their personal diabetes stories. Advocates urged legislators to increase federal funding for diabetes research and programs through the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Diabetes Translation (DDT), the National Diabetes Prevention Program, to protect access to affordable and adequate diabetes care and medications including insulin.  

The 9 professional football players who attended Call to Congress are part of the ADA’s Team Tackle initiative, which includes current and former professional football players who are dedicated to raising awareness about diabetes. Team Tackle players who participated included:

  • Brendon Ayanbadejo, retired, played for Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore and Miami
  • Dalvin Tomlinson, New York (G)
  • Frostee Rucker, free agent, played for Arizona
  • Kyle Love, Carolina 
  • Matthew Hatchette, retired, played for Minnesota, New York (J), Oakland and Jacksonville
  • Randall Telfer, Cleveland 
  • Reid Ferguson, Buffalo 
  • Sam Acho, free agent, played for Chicago 
  • Will Clarke, Tampa
  • Also attending was Reid’s brother, Blake, a player for Louisiana State University. 

The ADA’s “Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2017” report was published online in Diabetes Care at 10:00 a.m. ET, Thursday, March 22, 2018.