Hospital care for diabetes patients cost $83 billion

Almost one in four dollars spent by hospitals (23 percent) to care for patients in 2008 went toward treating patients with diabetes, according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Altogether hospitalized patients with a diagnosis of diabetes got $83 billion in care. Patients with diabetes cost hospitals 25 percent more than those without (an average of $10,937 for diabetics verses $8,746 for those without the illness).

About 7.2 million hospitalizations in 2007 were for diabetics with other conditions; 540,000 admissions were specifically for the condition. Diabetes accounted for 42 percent of hospitalized heart failure patients in 2008, 34 percent of those admitted for heart attacks, and 31 percent with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Medicare covered 60 percent of the diabetes patients, with the rest covered by private insurers (23 percent) and Medicaid (10 percent), according to the analysis. So, as the number of Americans with diabetes rises, the high cost of hospital care is a reason for concern for insurers, taxpayers and policy makers.

The study did not include the other costs of diabetic care such as medications, dialysis for kidney failure, and regular doctors’ appointments, which would add to the overall impact of diabetes of the nation’s health care bill.

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