Friday, December 15

What is The Cost of Diabetes?

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Diabetes is a chronic disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. The basic problem with diabetes is that in the beginning stages, its symptoms are not recognized. The key word here is recognition. The symptoms like hunger, thirst and frequent urination are there. But people tend to ignore them. Failure to recognize the disease in the beginning stages leads to the worsening of the disease and making the control of the blood sugar even more that difficult. This also drives up the cost of the treatment of the disease. Diabetes ignores caste, creed and color. It is a universal disease, affecting all countries and all sections of the population, both poor and rich. A lot of attention has been focused on infectious diseases like the AIDS and malaria. While this attention is worthy, the seriousness of the chronic disease and their economic impact has been ignored by and large. Let us look at some figures.

Approximate number of diabetics = between 260 and 300 million

Number in the less developed countries =between 150 and 200 million

Number in the most productive age group = approximately 130 million

These numbers are staggering. As diabetes is turning dangerously into a lifestyle disease also, there could well be a diabetic epidemic with accompanying mind blowing economic costs. The predicted diabetic epidemic is based on the fact that obesity is also gradually turning into an epidemic. The basic problem with diabetes is that the disease is difficult to control. This in turn leads to long term complications like kidney failure, blindness and neurological symptoms. Adding to the problem is the fact that nearly fifty percent of the diabetics have not been diagnosed at all.

The diagnosis of diabetes and the subsequent treatment involves a cost. But it goes beyond this.

  • Destroys family tranquillity

  • Loss of limbs

  • Loss in savings as insurance for diabetic treatment is not available in several countries

Let us look at some more numbers.

Worldwide cost of diabetic treatment = approximately 300 to 400 million dollars

Projected cost after 20 years = approximately 500 million dollars

The problem gets compounded if you have no insurance. The treatment of diabetes is costly and families become bankrupt. Lifetime savings evaporate and properties have to be sold to sustain diabetic treatment. Several families go into debt. The cost increases further as complications set in. For example, dialysis during kidney failure is expensive and recurring. In addition, you also run the risk of acquiring the coronary heart disease and life expectancy drastically declines.


In India, for example, pre-existing diseases are not covered under medical insurance. But they also come under the cover after about five years. Therefore it is important to start having medical insurance at a relatively young age.

You may not be able to prevent type 1 and type 2 diabetic diseases. At least, you can prevent the onset of insulin resistant diabetes by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping your weight under check.


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