According to a new report released by UnitedHealth Group Inc., more than half of Americans will have diabetes or be prediabetic by 2020 at a cost to the U.S. health care system of $3.35 trillion if current trends continue.
The report states diabetes and prediabetes will account for an estimated 10 percent of total health care spending by the end of the decade at an annual cost of almost $500 billion — up from an estimated $194 billion this year.
The average annual health care costs for a person with known diabetes in 2009 was approximately $11,700 compared to about $4,400 for the non-diabetic public. Additionally, the number nearly doubles to $20,700 for a person with complications related to diabetes, the report said.
The diabetes epidemic is one of the fastest-growing diseases in the United States and currently affects about 26 million Americans. Another 67 million Americans are estimated to have prediabetes, which may not have any obvious symptoms. People with prediabetes have higher than normal blood sugar levels, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetics often have other risk factors, such as being overweight, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The authors of the report stated the crisis, if tackled aggressively; including early intervention to prevent prediabetes from becoming diabetes, statistics could improve.
“Because diabetes follows a progressive course, often starting with obesity and then moving to prediabetes, there are multiple opportunities to intervene early on and prevent this devastating disease before it’s too late,” Deneen Vojta, senior vice president of the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization, said in a statement.
“What is now needed is concerted, national, multi-stakeholder action,” Simon Stevens, chairman of the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization, said in a statement.
The best way to prevent diabetes is to exercise regularly and maintain a body weight that is appropriate for your height. You should also make sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
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