DiabCost Australia

DiabCost Australia

Diabetes epidemic costs $3 billion a year: research finds

Type 2 diabetes is costing Australians a staggering $3 billion a year with the bill for each sufferer averaging nearly $11,000 in expenditure and benefits, a landmark study revealed today.

It is estimated that there are as many people with the disease undiagnosed as there are detected, potentially costing the nation $6 billion annually, experts warned.

DiabCost Australia, the first large scale national study into the burden of type 2 diabetes, was released at the Australian Diabetes Society and Australian Diabetes Educators Association National Scientific Meeting in Adelaide.

The report shows that as the complications of diabetes increase the costs escalate.

The bill per person more than doubles from $4,020 to $9,625 when there are both microvascular and macrovascular problems.

Chief study investigator, Associate Professor Stephen Colagiuri, director of Diabetes Services at Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital, said DiabCost filled a gaping hole to understanding the true burden of diabetes in Australia.

"We know the epidemic proportions of type 2 diabetes with 7.4 per cent of the Australian population affected," Prof Colagiuri said.

"Now we have a true reflection of the staggering burden of the disease to the individual, community and government."

"Information collected previously had grossly underestimated the costs," Prof Colagiuri said.

"Local data were urgently needed so we can accurately understand what determines costs and what we can do to reduce them."

The study found that the majority of direct health costs were associated with complications resulting in hospitalisation (32 per cent) and the use of medication to treat the complications (26 per cent).

Prof Colagiuri said that only 4 per cent of the total expended on treating the condition was spent on diabetes medication to control the disease.

"Early detection through screening programs and action to slow or prevent the onset of complications will see reductions in the economic and personal burden of type 2 diabetes," he said.

DiabCost measured the personal impact, providing the first information in Australia on the support given by carers to those with type 2 diabetes.

Brian Conway, executive director of Diabetes Australia, said that on average, people with type 2 diabetes have a lower quality of life compared to the general population, particularly those aged less than 65 years.

"This is compounded further as the type and number of associated complications increase," Mr Conway said.

"In the study, 10 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes had a carer, the majority of whom perform this role for free."

"If all those carers of people with type 2 diabetes received a fully paid carers benefit this could cost some $47.3 million a year."

"Diabetes Australia is concerned that there are 500,000 people with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. "

"If these people are not found, they are likely to have complications from their diabetes at a much earlier age than necessary."

"Governments, health professionals and individuals must continue to monitor those at risk of diabetes and ensure we find these people prior to the onset of complications," Mr Conway said.

"Costs will soar unless more is done to diagnose and treat the disease."

DiabCost Australia is a joint venture between the Australian Centre for Diabetes Strategies, Diabetes Australia Ltd, Eli Lilly Australia, and Medical Technology Assessment Group.

Eli Lilly Australia and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing funded the study.

Copies of the first report from DiabCost Australia are available by contacting the Australian Centre for Diabetes Strategies on (02) 9382 4676.

For more information about type 2 diabetes and the latest health promotion campaign Know your BGL go to www.diabetesaustralia.com.au or call 1300 136 588.