Diabetes could cost economy billions; Report sounds alarm
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Diabetes could cost economy billions; Report sounds alarm over rising rates
Edmonton Journal , Dec. 7, 2009
The rising rates of diabetes in Canada could cost the economy as much as $17
billion by the year 2020, according to a new report that calls on the
federal government to do more to ease the economic burden.
The Canadian Diabetes Association’s report, An Economic Tsunami; The Cost of
Diabetes in Canada, warns that more than 20 people are diagnosed with the
disease every hour of every day, and that number is expected to continue to
rise over the coming years.
“Many of us will be affected, and the numbers show that by 2020 one in 10
Canadians will have diabetes,” said Ellen Malcolmson, president and CEO of
the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Using data from the Canadian National Diabetes Surveillance System and the
Economic Burden of Illness report, a mathematical model was developed to
determine the prevalence of diabetes now and in the future, and the
associated economic costs. Malcolmson said it’s an important tool to provide
statistics instead of extrapolating from U.S. data.
It is estimated that 2.5 million Canadians have diabetes, and that in the
next decade, 3.7 million more Canadians will be diagnosed with it.
The report also notes that an estimated 700,000 people have diabetes and
don’t know it.
Rising obesity rates, an aging population and changes in the ethnic mix of
new immigrants are all believed to be driving the increasing rates of
diabetes. Almost 80 per cent of new Canadians are from populations that are
at a higher risk for diabetes, including people of South Asian, Asian,
African and Hispanic
The economic burden of diabetes is calculated to be about $12.2 billion next
year, and the cost is expected to rise by another $4.7 billion by 2020. The
direct financial burden on the health-care system includes the cost of
hospitalizations, visits to general physicians and specialists, and
medication. Indirect costs were calculated to include the loss of economic
output due to illness, long-term disability or premature death.
“The cost is so significant when you think about it from a health-system
perspective,” said Malcolmson.
The price tag for hospitalizations and visits to doctors is expected to rise
the fastest over the next 10 years and will “severely tax” the health-care
system, the report said.
The model shows that visits to general physicians will rise to more than 14
million by 2020, visits to specialists to 9.1 million and the number of
amputations performed every year is expected to go up to 630,000 by 2020.
The Canadian Diabetes Association is calling on the federal government to
renew the Canadian Diabetes Strategy and the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative,
which expire in 2010. Aboriginal Canadians are three to five times more
likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than non-aboriginal Canadians.
The national strategy was renewed in the 2005 budget and $90 million spread
over five years was committed to it and$190 million was directed to the
aboriginal diabetes initiative.
“It’s important to us that the strategies are renewed and enhanced,” said
Her association is also looking for the federal government to increase the
tax credits and deductions that are allowed for medical expenses, and the
provinces will also be asked to help, she said.
People with diabetes often have to pay for medications and supplies, such as
glucose testing strips, out of their own pocket, and some who can’t afford
the expenses then don’t manage their disease well, which leads to problems
later, said Malcolmson.
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