The cost of being healthy versus having a disease could make or break a budget. One year things cost one amount and the next is another story. This holds true with diabetes and the many treatments.
In the not so distant past, a diabetes diagnosis was considered a death sentence. People lost a toe or leg, went blind, had a heart attack and then died. Today, the emphasis is on prevention. Prevention doesn’t cost much more than planning and time, maybe a bit of sweat, too.
Uncontrolled diabetes can be one of the most expensive diseases around. The costs start adding up when blood sugars are not controlled. Infections and heart disease lead to hospitalizations and long-term care. These add up to more than half the direct cost.
Consider indirect costs which include missing work because of illness, reduced productivity at work and at home, unemployment due to a chronic disability and premature death. Indirect costs account for 28 percent of the total cost.
How much are the costs, exactly? Just few years ago people with diagnosed diabetes spent about $14,000 a year for their health care. Of this amount, more than half, $8,000, is directly attributed to managing diabetes.
A research study recently calculated the lifetime cost that people with diabetes pay while managing blood sugars. The “lifetime medical spending for people with diabetes” is now more than $211,000. This cost is rising due to more technology being used to manage diabetes.
There is an adage that says, if you don’t plan on staying healthy, then plan on being sick. Diabetes costs can be scary statistics but there are ways to manage blood sugars instead of them managing you.
Get your A1c levels checked every three months. Begin by decreasing the amount of sugar and carbohydrate foods to a minimum. Buy a new pair of athletic shoes and use them daily to walk and exercise. Evaluate the mental and emotional stress in your daily routine and make life easier for yourself. Relax and get plenty of sleep.
Do not be afraid of starting a medication for elevated blood sugars. There seems to be a connection between the use of entry level meds and the onset of declining mental changes. Research finds that the sooner medications are started the longer a person enjoys stable mental health.
Many people refuse to pay for the education needed to control diabetes especially if their insurance company will not cover the costs. A Diabetes Self-Management training program can cost between $500 to $1,000 dollars, depending on the needs of the client. Paying less than a thousand dollars early in the diagnosis and using the tools presented to manage blood sugars can save hundreds of thousands of dollars later as the disease progresses with age.
Education and prevention is the key. Treatment with medication, meal planning, exercise and stress control sooner, rather than later, can spare a toe, save a heart, preserve kidneys, keep nerves alive or maintain vision, just to name a few.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected]