Diabetes imposes a large economic burden on national healthcare systems:
- Healthcare expenditures on diabetes will account for 11.6% of the total healthcare expenditure in the world in 2010.
- About 95% of the countries will spend 5% or more, and about 80% of the countries will spend between 5% and 13% of their total healthcare dollars on diabetes.
- Global health expenditures to prevent and treat diabetes and its complications will total at least $376 billion in 2010.
- By 2030, this number will exceed $490 billion.
- Expressed in International Dollars (ID), which correct for differences in purchasing power, the global expenditures on diabetes will be at least ID 418 billion in 2010, and at least ID 561 billion in 2030.
- An average of $703 (ID 878) per person will be spent on diabetes in 2010 globally.
Expenditures spent on diabetes care are not evenly distributed across age and gender groups. More than three-quarters of the global expenditure in 2010 will be used for persons who are between 50 and 80 years of age. Also, more money is expected to be spent on diabetes care for women than for men.
There is a large disparity in healthcare spending on diabetes between regions and countries:
- More than 80% of the global expenditures on diabetes are made in the world’s economically richest countries, not in the low- and middle-income countries where 80% of people with diabetes will soon live.
- The North American and Caribbean Region will spend $214 billion, or 57% of the global total on diabetes in 2010.
- In contrast, the African Region will spend, in total, $1.4 billion for diabetes, or 0.4% of the global total.
- The United States of America (USA), will alone spend $198 billion, or 52.7% of global expenditures.
- India, the country with the largest population of people living with diabetes, will spend an estimated $2.8 billion, or less than 1% of the global total.
The largest economic burden caused by diabetes is the monetary value associated with disability and loss of life as a result of the disease itself and its related complications, including heart, kidney, eye and foot disease. Economists have used different methods to value disability and loss of life associated with diseases and the most appropriate method is still under debate. No matter what method is used, it is very likely the economic burden that is measured by the monetary value associated with this disability and loss of life would be far larger than the estimated economic burden using measures described above.
Fortunately, the economic burden of diabetes can be reduced by implementing many inexpensive, easy-to-use interventions, and most of the interventions are cost-effective or cost-saving, even in the poorest countries. Tragically, these interventions are not widely used in poor and middle income countries. More resources should be invested to deliver these cost effective interventions, in particular to those in the developing countries where the great majority of persons with diabetes live.