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When Diabetes and Uninsured Health Care Costs Collide

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 11:08 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Medicine, Medical Devices, Wrongful Death

Diabetes rates are soaring and our health care system may not be able to handle the burden. Prevention over treatment is emphasized in this study.

                                                   Image:  Diabetes Icon

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A new study says the U.S. is in for a major health and economic crisis when the number of uninsured collides with the soaring number of Americans being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

This study published in the January 28th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine comes from Duke University Medical Center. Researchers were trying to find whether people are living longer with diabetes.

Frank Sloan, the lead author says they analyzed Medicare claims from two time periods, between 1994 to 1995 and 2003 to 2004. In those time periods, new diagnosis of diabetes increased by 23 percent while the number of people living with the disease increased by 62 percent.  The death rate was more than eight percent higher among diabetics.

More people over 65 years of age are being diagnosed with the disease characterized by a failure of the hormone insulin to deliver sugars to cells where it's needed for energy.  The study finds nearly 90 percent of elderly with diabetes had some complications. The biggest jump was in kidney disease.

That increases the “burden of care” of the nation’s health care system they write in the Archives of Internal Medicine.  

Diabetics are prone to heart disease as unregulated blood sugars erode blood vessels in the heart, eye, circulatory system and kidney. In this study, almost half had congestive heart failure and most had at least one complication.

Prevention is the key and type-2 diabetes is largely a lifestyle disease linked to obesity which affects more that half of Americans

Exercise and a diet lower in sugars from carbohydrates and higher in complex carbohydrates and vegetables can reverse some type 2 diabetes.  The good news is a weight loss of just five to ten pounds can affect positive change. Education is vital and prevention should be stressed over treating symptoms.

Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at  Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City tells the Washington Post that “What we’re doing is treating, and we’re not treating the problem at the beginning.” He call diabetes an epidemic. “We’re not doing much to prevent it and we’re not doing very well controlling it. It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” he says.

Those enrolled in this study were under Medicare, the federal insurance program for those 65 and older. Already one third of the Medicare budget is a directed to diabetes and as they age the 47 million Americans without health insurance will strain the Medicare budget.

About one third of the 20 million Americans with type 2 diabetes don’t even know they have the disease.

"Taken to the extreme, there will soon be too many patients with diabetes to be individually treated and not enough money to pay for it all," Dr. Frank Vinicor of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in an accompanying editorial. #

 

 


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