Diabetes imposes a large economic burden on the individual, national healthcare systems, and countries. Healthcare expenditures due to diabetes account for 11% of the total healthcare expenditures in the world in 2011. About 80% of the countries covered in this report are estimated to spend between 5% and 18% of their total healthcare expenditures on diabetes. Healthcare expenditures include spending on diabetes by the health system as well as by people living with diabetes.
Global healthcare expenditures
Estimated global healthcare expenditures to treat diabetes and prevent complications totalled at least US dollars (USD) 465 billion in 2011. By 2030, this number is projected to exceed some USD 595 billion. Expressed in 2008 International Dollars (ID), which correct for differences in purchasing power, global healthcare expenditures on diabetes are estimated to be at least ID 499 billion in 2011 and ID 654 billion in 2030. An estimated average of USD 1,274 (ID 1,366) per person with diabetes was spent globally on treating and managing the disease in 2011.
Healthcare expenditures due to diabetes are not evenly distributed across age groups and genders. The estimates show that more than three-quarters of the global healthcare expenditure due to diabetes in 2011 are for people between the ages of 50 and 79 years.
Disparities in healthcare spending
There is a large disparity in healthcare spending on diabetes between regions and countries. Only 20% of global healthcare expenditures due to diabetes were made in low- and middle-income countries, where 80% of people with diabetes live. On average, the estimated healthcare spending due to diabetes was USD 5,063 (ID 4,888) per person with diabetes in high-income countries compared to USD 271 (ID 456) in low- and middle-income countries.
The United States of America spent USD 201 billion of its healthcare dollars on diabetes or 43% of global healthcare expenditure due to diabetes, while China, the country with the most people living with diabetes spent just USD 17 billion, or less than 4% of the global total. Similarly, Luxembourg spent an average of USD 9,341 on diabetes care per person with diabetes while countries such as Eritrea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Myanmar spent less than USD 20 in 2011.
Those living in low- and middle-income countries pay a larger share of healthcare expenditure because they lack access to health insurance and publicly available medical services. In Latin America, for instance, families pay 40-60% of medical care expenditures from their own pockets. 1 In some of the poorest countries, people with diabetes and their families bear almost the total cost of medical care.
The huge economic burden of diabetes can be reduced by implementing inexpensive, easy-to-use interventions. Many of these interventions are cost-effective or cost-saving, even in the poorest countries. Nonetheless, these interventions are not widely used in low- and middle-income countries.
1: Barceló A, Aedo C, Rajpathak S, et al. The cost of diabetes in Latin America and the Caribbean. Bull World Health Organ 2003; 81 (1): 19-27.