Monday, December 8, 2014

The costs of diabetes

NPR ran a story recently about the costs of diabetes.  Every person with diabetes represents a significant financial burden that society has to bear, whether or not you believe in socialized health care.  Currently, treating diabetes costs every American $1,000 a year, whether or not you have the disease.

What Diabetes Costs You, Even If You Don't Have The Disease

I often argue that a country is only as strong as her people, and that's why we need to provide health care for every American... but this is even more sobering.  Even if you are steadfastly against socialized health care, even if you are a right-wing Republican and would quite happily let anyone who can't afford their own medical care die in a puddle of filth, diabetes is already costing you money.

Here's just one example of how we're failing to help people with diabetes: just 6.8 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes in 2011 or 2012 were given diabetes self-management training, according to another study released Wednesday, this one from the CDC.

That training typically includes getting people up to speed on treatment options; healthy eating and exercise; detecting and treating complications; and "developing personalized strategies for decision making."

For people who weren't prescribed medication to manage their diabetes, not getting diabetes management training "could mean that their diabetes remains essentially untreated," the report finds.

And these were people with health insurance. It's hard to imagine that the numbers could be worse, but they almost certainly would be for people who are uninsured.
So not only are you paying $1,000 a year to care for people who have diabetes, you are also paying for it to be treated badly.  If diabetes care were part of a national health care program, however, perhaps we could standardize diabetic care to ensure that every person with these diseases (as it's not just one disease) receives proper education and care.  And if we could do that, maybe we could actually reduce the cost of diabetes by improving the overall health of diabetics, thereby limiting the amount we spend on treating the many serious complications.

Just a thought.

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