November 28, 2009
Diabetes To Double In United States

An aging population costs lots of money to treat for all their diseases. Rejuvenation therapies would therefore save a lot of money for disease treatments. Our aging population will double the number of people with diabetes even without an increase in prevalence at each age.

In the next 25 years, the number of Americans living with diabetes will nearly double, increasing from 23.7 million in 2009 to 44.1 million in 2034. Over the same period, spending on diabetes will almost triple, rising from $113 billion to $336 billion, even with no increase in the prevalence of obesity, researchers based at the University of Chicago report in the December issue of Diabetes Care.

$336 billion per year to manage one disease. The idea here isn't that $336 billion will be spent to cure each patient. If methods of cure existed they'd probably cost far less than a few hundred billion per year. When cures exist they are usually much cheaper than managing a disease.

The number of those with diabetes covered by Medicare will rise from 8.2 million to 14.6 million, the researchers predict. Medicare spending on diabetes will jump from $45 billion to $171 billion.

"If we don't change our diet and exercise habits or find new, more effective and less expensive ways to prevent and treat diabetes, we will find ourselves in a lot of trouble as a population," said the study's lead author Elbert Huang, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago.

"Without significant changes in public or private strategies," the authors wrote, "this population and cost growth are expected to add a significant strain to an overburdened health care system."

If obesity rises then the cost will be higher. But if drugs come on the market that cut the incidence of obesity then the incidence of diabetes would plummet. Drugs that reverse the metabolic changes that cause adult-onset insulin resistant diabetes might also do the trick. I also wonder whether getting high fructose corn syrup out of our diets would cut the incidence of diabetes as well.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 November 28 07:56 PM  Trends Health


Comments
Clarium said at November 29, 2009 3:08 AM:

Well, I think the Dallas Fed cites the figure that the US has 100 trillion in public and private debt, and various unfunded government liabilities. Do you think this figure overestimates or underestimates the cost of health care liabilities? I wonder what would be the debt-service required for these liabilities. Assuming a long-term interest rate of three percent, the aforementioned diabetes figure counts for more than a tenth of the yearly debt-service.

I do not know much about the feasibility of rejuvenation therapies, but I am fairly young so I have a relatively high future time preference in issues concerning my health. What do you think would be the general population's time preferences regarding health issues. The public doesn't seem concerned with future therapies, but mainly in reducing the cost of current health care right now. I do not the public's attitude is conducive to rejuvenation therapies given the time frame and potential cost.

Peter Thiel is indeed correct when he says the current economic problems are a technology crisis or a crisis of innovation. An aging population causes de-facto debt deflation; productivity drops as the population declines and ages, while the burden of the liabilities increases due to increasing health problems. Technology has the ability to solve the productivity problem, and the health care liability problem, but so far, it hasn't.

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