Author(s): Jnsson B
In assessing the economic impact of diabetes for a population, several factors should be considered, including the incidence and prevalence of the disease, the level of development of the health care system, and the population's overall level of economic development. Two different approaches have been used to address the economic impact of an increasing incidence of diabetes. The first approach uses disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) to measure intangible costs associated with diabetes. It combines the number of healthy life-years lost as a result of early mortality with those lost because of disability. The second approach, which has been used more frequently, is the cost-of-illness approach, which includes the concepts of direct, indirect, and intangible costs. A study conducted by the World Bank found that of the 1,362 million DALYs lost to all illnesses in 1990, 7.97 million DALYs were lost because of diabetes. In a 1992 study that assessed the direct costs of treating diabetes in the U.S., the American Diabetes Association used the cost-of-illness approach and found that the estimated total expenditure for 1 year was $45.2 billion. The 1994 epidemiological studies by Zimmet and the World Health Organization include estimates of increased prevalence of diabetes resulting from an increase in population. Estimates of the global cost of diabetes based on these studies reveal that diabetes accounts for 2-3% of the total health care budget in every country; therefore, an increase in diabetes incidence and prevalence translates into a significant economic impact.