Last week, results of an ADA-commissioned study were announced indicating that uncontrolled diabetes is costing this country $174 billion a year. That makes it as costly as war (the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism combined), and more expensive than repairing our worst natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina. I am still trying to get my head around this information.
The ADA actually says this estimate is probably an understatement, because "it omits the social cost of intangibles such as pain and suffering, care provided by non-paid caregivers, excess medical costs associated with undiagnosed diabetes, and diabetes-attributed costs for health care expenditures." Also not included are health care system administrative costs, over-the-counter medications, clinician training programs, and research and infrastructure development. Yikes!
At this rate, diabetes "will ruin a generation of Americans," says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, quoted in USA Today. Have a look at the ADA ad campaign around these shocking revelations:
You can also get an instant figure on how much money diabetes is costing your state or Congressional district using this quick online DIABETES COST CALCULATOR.
I know all of this is meant to jar this country's leadership into action. But as an "out of the closet" PWD, here's what I'm thinking: It feels like this could cause quite a wave of resentment among those taxpayers not so in-the-know about diabetes, ie. the genetic factors and the difference in Types of diabetes. Will many now have good reason to sneer at anyone afflicted by this disease and think: you people are draining the system?
The comments on the USA Today article are pretty interesting. Some people did not take kindly to the comparison of this chronic illness with war. Some complained that "the village idiot (still) won't allow stem cell therapy." And get this: one brash commenter notes that "if the taxpayers are paying for things, we can set conditions on funding. I think you should have to present an ID whenever buying food. Your data will be referenced and a computer will tell you what foods you are allowed to purchase or consume." That sounds awfully punitive and invasive to me.
Instead, I like the thinking of a fellow diabetes blogger (age 23, Type 1), who writes: "What would happen if that amount of money would be given to researchers who are searching for a cure or provided to educators in order for people to have a true understanding of what living with diabetes means, how they can prevent Type 2 diabetes, etc?"
Now that's using your expensive diabetic head.