For all of us junk mail is a fact of life. Some weeks our office receives 20 pounds or more of junk mail to 5 pounds of real mail. In all the years of practice I cannot even imagine how much junk mail has been addressed to Connie Casad MD or Park Cities Aesthetics. It almost makes me feel sorry for the Post Office. But as they say, one man’s trash is another’s treasure. So even though it takes time we peruse all the mail that comes because every now and then we find something worthwhile. This happened in July when we were sent a copy of Diabetes Forecast that came by accident. Nevertheless, we read it and realized there is some valuable information in this periodical that can help promote health and wellness for our patients. In keeping with our focus on health education, this information is something we all need to know.
Diabetes Forecast focuses on both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Since Type 1 is not reversible and requires daily treatment to manage the disease, this blog will focus on Type 2 which many doctors believe is at epidemic levels in America. It is not only a real threat to national health and wellness, but also causes an overwhelming cost to our health care system. The numbers are staggering. More than 29 million Americans have diabetes and 1 out of 4 don’t even know it. Another 90 million people are considered prediabetic; 1 out of every 3 adults. Their blood sugar levels are above normal and without weight loss and moderate physical activity, as many as 30 percent will develop Type 2 within five years. Dr. Ann Albright, Director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes stated, “These numbers are alarming and underscore the need for an increased focus on reducing the burden of diabetes in our country. Diabetes is costly in both human and economic terms. It’s urgent that we take swift action to effectively treat and prevent this serious disease.”
So this gives us an idea of who is at risk. Now for the financial revelations: The monetary cost back in 2012 was 176 billion in direct medical costs and 69 billion in lost productivity for a total of 245 billion dollars – in 2012 – who knows what it is today. When studied in 2012, these figures represented a 41 percent increase over the previous five years. Most of the direct costs cover hospital, medication, physician and nursing care. People with diabetes spend more than $14,000.00 per year in these actual expenses. Indirect costs like absenteeism, reduced productivity, inability to work due to the disease, and lost productivity due to early mortality make up the 69 billion in indirect costs mentioned above. Just like the national debt these numbers are incomprehensible.
Big picture – this is a big problem and only getting worse. Our government, through Medicare, Medicaid, and the military absorbs 62.4% of this expense – which means you and me. It is a disease that cuts across all races, sexes, and socio-economic groups. But people without adequate health insurance, as you can imagine, have 79% fewer physician visits and receive 68% fewer medications. As a direct result of inadequate insurance and care, they have 55% more emergency room visits, which results in the most costly way to treat a disease that can be prevented.
In our next blog, Sugar is Poison, we go from the macro to the micro – how does this disease affect you and your health and what you can do to prevent it.