Diabetes: The Costs of Doing Nothing

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), an estimated 1.3 million Pennsylvanians have diabetes and the total direct medical costs for people diagnosed with diabetes in Pennsylvania were around $9.3 billion in 2017. Billions of dollars, priceless time, and lives lost are the costs of doing nothing.

One of the most common problems people with type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes) face is learning how to manage and maintain a healthy diet. Failing to improve dietary habits can lead to increased blood glucose levels, which can contribute to the development of heart disease, vision impairment, and amputation in severe cases.

Nutritional counseling can help people with diabetes manage and maintain healthy diets.

Nutritional counseling involves a dietitian assessing a person’s nutritional needs and helping develop an action plan to fulfill those needs. Nutritionists recommend which foods to eat, fitness programs, and sometimes specific schedules for eating, depending on the treatment assessment.

Medicare offers coverage for people with kidney disease or diabetes and will pay for three hours of nutritional counseling in the course of the first year. In following years, Medicare will pay for two hours of the service. If a patient requires further dietary counseling, a physician can request that Medicare pay for additional sessions. Studies indicate that people who participate in nutritional counseling have fewer complications and overall better health outcomes.

Millions of people are dealing with the physical and financial burdens that come with having diabetes. As stated by the ADA in its 2019 Pennsylvania fact sheet, people with diabetes pay 2.3 times more in medical costs than people who do not have the disease. Kidney disease remains one of the most damaging consequences, because diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.

Nutritional counseling can help reduce and sometimes prevent the complications that come with diabetes. The key is knowing your health needs and maintaining a diet that meets those needs. People who do not take action could lose valuable time with loved ones, pay thousands of dollars, and endure unnecessary stress and pain. These are the costs of doing nothing.