Medical costs for youth with diabetes more than $9,000 a year

ATLANTA — According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Wednesday, young people with diabetes face substantially higher medical costs than children and teens without the disease. The study found annual medical expenses for youth with diabetes were $9,061, compared with $1,468 for youth without the disease.

Much of the extra medical costs come from prescription drugs and outpatient care, the CDC found. Young people with the highest medical costs were treated with insulin, and included all those with Type 1 diabetes and some with Type 2 diabetes. People with Type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin and must receive insulin treatment. Some people with Type 2 diabetes also are treated with insulin, because their bodies do not produce enough to control blood glucose, or sugar.

Children and adolescents who received insulin treatment had annual medical costs of $9,333, compared with $5,683 for those who did not receive insulin but did take oral medications to control blood glucose.

"Young people with diabetes face medical costs that are six times higher than their peers without diabetes," said Ann Albright, director of the CDC's division of diabetes translation. "Most youth with diabetes need insulin to survive, and the medical costs for young people on insulin were almost 65% higher than for those who did not require insulin to treat their diabetes."

The study examined medical costs for children and teens ages 19 years or younger who were covered by employer-sponsored private health insurance plans in 2007, using the MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters Database. The estimates were based on administrative claim data from nearly 50,000 youth, including 8,226 with diabetes.

Medical costs for people with diabetes, the vast majority of whom are adults, are 2.3 times higher than costs for those without diabetes, according to the CDC's National Diabetes "Fact Sheet 2011." The CDC study will be published in the May issue of the journal Diabetes Care.