The Cost of Diabetes

Diabetes-Obesity Very Expensive:

If you have Overweight Diabetes, rising costs for medical care make it likely that your out-of-pocket expenses will be a least $5,000/year more for you than for everybody else who is just like you except you have diabetes.

Diabetes and its association with obesity is the most expensive cause of chronic illness and disability in the USA. Grouped together, both are caused by eating too much and too little exercise. Both also contribute to cost as major causes of cardiovascular disease and cancer.


Chronic illness accounts for 86% of all healthcare spending which takes more than 17% of GDP and more than $10,000 per person every year. Too many calories taken in and too few used for energy can be corrected and would save more than 10% of total healthcare costs in the USA.

Remarkable Cost Savings with Weight Reduction:


Obese Men and Women with Diabetes in an HMO who reduced their weight incurred less cost for medical care than those who gained weight. All the savings occurred because of decreases in cost of anti-diabetes medications including insulin. This means their insulin resistance decreased and metabolic function improved. The improvement in their health saved money.

Those who lost weight spent $5,541 while those who gained weight spent $7,260. The amounts spent were $120 more or $120 less in relation to 1 pound of body weight gained or lost. For those who lost 5 lb, they spent $600 less than those whose weight stayed the same.


Since 2000 when these results occurred, the price of anti-diabetes medications has more than doubled. Today, the same savings in cost of anti-diabetes medications for reducing weight at least 5 lb would be more than $1,200. That’s $240/lb!

Annual Medical Costs:

The average annual cost of medical treatment for each person in the USA today is about $10,000. People with diabetes have medical expenses that total more than twice the expenses of people with ideal weight and no diabetes.


People who are overweight or obese also incur increased expenses for their medical care.

For some people, the costs for medical care are paid in full by corporate or federal employee healt

h care plans. Many others are covered by Medicaid, Medicare or Veterans Affairs Healthcare Benefits.

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JA Herd, MD: May 4, 2018