- Some 24 million Americans have diabetes, and 57 million more are heading toward it.
- About one-fourth of those with diabetes don't know they have it.
- Treating each diabetes patient costs about $6,649 each year. That's $116 billion.
- Total health spending last year came to about $7,439 per person, or $2.26 trillion.
Sort of puts that picture of Homer Simpson and his doughnut in a whole new light, doesn't it? (Still just $32.95 from Hollywood Standups.)
We know the major causes of diabetes. Aging is one. Genetics is another. But obesity is a third, and we can do something about it. Dropping weight can, for a time, mitigate a diabetic's condition.
This is at the heart of America's health problem. Fat, sugar, sedentary lifestyles -- they're not just killing us but they're costing us money. And the cost just keeps rising.
Add in lost productivity and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates the total cost of the disease at $174 billion. Some three million more people were diagnosed in the last two years, and tens of millions more are waiting in the wings.
This is why the health care debate has evolved into a wellness debate.
You can't totally prevent diabetes, but you can cut your risks. You can reduce your cost of care through diet, exercise, and compliance with your doctor's instructions. These are wellness issues.
Untreated diabetes can land you in the hospital, and those costs were $58 billion last year according to the ADA. Wellness programs, if followed, will save tens of billions of dollars. These are cost issues.
I have many friends with diabetes, and there's a history of it in my family. I can choose to sit around and let it happen to me, or I can take action now and possibly prevent it. This is a personal issue.
So can you, and the cost, or savings, from those choices add up. If you want to address the health care crisis, at the margin of demand, address getting better compliance with what doctors know works.
Our own inaction and laziness has made the diabetes epidemic what it is. Our choices will determine how much worse it gets.
Can we force compliance with wellness demands that will cut health care costs for everyone? Or should we tell those who ignore the warnings that they're on their own. Voters to Homer: Drop Dead. [poll id=21]