Diabetes Also Takes an Economic Toll

Jan 12, 2012, 3:35 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

A new study in the journal Health Affairs has found that young people with diabetes are more likely to drop out of high school and could expect to earn about $160,000 less than those without diabetes over their lifetimes. That’s on top of medical expenses that can average $6,000 per year for medicine, testing equipment and physician visits. The Health Affairs article used data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to look at the non-medical costs associated with diabetes.

NewPublicHealth spoke with Michael R. Richards, a co-author of the study and a graduate student in health economics in the Division of Health Policy and Administration at the Yale School of Public Health. Richards says the study is important because often the urgency that is associated with diabetes focuses on long-term health consequences—outcomes that happen later in life.

“Our work suggests that urgency should be brought forward earlier. We need to be looking at long- and short-term consequences—including educational attainment and income levels. Richards says not enough is known yet to help formalize policies on how to deal with short-term issues, but that the next step in the research by the study authors is to uncover the mechanisms that are driving these outcomes. “Once we know the mechanisms,” says Richards, “it will be easier to plan next steps.”

>>Read the Health Affairs article here.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.