Managing type 1 diabetes (T1D) is not only time consuming, it is also expensive. Costs include not only the basics to manage the disease such as testing supplies, insulin, continuous glucose monitors, and insulin pumps, but also those related to hospital care for complications or outpatient care. In addition, there are lost wages due to disease-related situations, as well as indirect costs. These expenses can quickly add up.
A recent study looked at the estimated lifetime economic burden for individuals with T1D versus those without. The results showed that the difference between the two groups over the course of 100 years (a lifetime), was $813 billion. The model projected costs for 1,630,317 individuals with T1D and the same number without. It followed simulated patients year by year from the time they were diagnosed until they passed away.
According to the study, “Diabetes contributes $237 billion in direct medical costs per year or 7% of the nation’s $3.3 trillion spent on health care, which is higher than the annual health care expenditures for other chronic diseases, such as cancer (5%) and heart disease/stroke (4%).”
Not only did individuals without T1D experience lower costs, they also had higher life expectancy rates. Patients with T1D are at increased risk for disease-related complications which can further impact life expectancy and financial burden. Currently, T1D is a progressive disease, and it is something that affects individuals for the rest of their lives because there is no known cure. It must be managed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The extreme difference in lifetime societal burden and economic burden between these two groups demonstrates the need for continued research related to T1D. The ability to prevent or delay disease development or progression, or to cure the disease, could have major financial cost savings. The results of this study were estimated given available data and modeling capabilities, so they may underestimate the true impact.
There were also certain limitations to the study, including data that was only recent up to 2016 and did not include costs associated with CGMs, insulin pumps, or hybrid artificial pancreas systems. Complication-related costs were derived from data on patients with type 2 diabetes because it was not available for patients with type 1 diabetes. However, the general message does not change: finding a way to delay, prevent, or eliminate disease progression is essential, in addition to minimizing complications.
Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is committed to advancing research around type 1 diabetes by providing critical funding to early-career scientists. Through their novel, peer-reviewed studies, they can improve understanding of the disease as well as treatment options. To learn more about current projects and support these efforts, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.