Sick days, disability, early retirement, and premature death of diabetic Americans born between 1931 and 1941 cost the country almost $133.5 billion by the year 2000, according to a new estimate by researchers with the University of Michigan (U-M) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This analysis is the first to identify the staggering financial impact of diabetes on the economy using a single, consistent source of data -- the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a national longitudinal study funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
"This study is a stark reminder of the huge financial burden diabetes places on patients, their families, and society," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. "Diabetes remains a serious and growing health threat, but there are simple steps we can all take, such as eating wisely and staying active, that can reduce the toll that diabetes takes on our lives." "Understanding the economic impact of diabetes allows a more complete understanding of the cost-effectiveness of diabetes treatment programs and may provide a rationale for employers to begin to address workplace programs to improve health," according to the study by Sandeep Vijan, M.D., M.S., and colleagues.* The study, published in the December 2004 issue of Health Services Research, was funded by the Social Security Administration. Additional support for the researchers came from the NIA, the VA, and the Alzheimers Association.
For the study, Vijan and U-M co-authors Rodney A. Hayward, M.D., and Kenneth M. Langa, M.D., Ph.D., looked at diabetes-associated mortality, disability, early retirement, and work absenteeism among a national household sample of older adults interviewed over an 8-year period as part of the HRS. Since 1992, HRS has conducted interviews every 2 years with a nationally representative sample of 22,000 Americans age 50 and older to assess major trends in health and economic well-being.
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