Nearly 24 million people in the United States have diabetes, equal to 7.8 percent of the total population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this represents an increase of more than 3 million people in approximately two years. The CDC data report released in June 2008 confirmed that diabetes is the largest and fastest-growing chronic disease in the nation.
Diabetes is characterized by a condition where the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is necessary to covert sugar, starches and other foods into energy for lving. Among the types of diabetes,
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Insulin shots are the only way to keep blood glucose levels down in Type 1 diabetes sufferers.
Type 2 diabetes, wihich is the most common form of diabetes, causes the body to not produce enough insulin or causes the cells to ignore the insulin.
Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnant women who have never had diabetes before have high blood sugar (glucose) levels during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes requires pregnant women to manage their condition during pregnancy to deliver a healthy child. The condition is temporary and usually reverses after the child's birth. However, women who develop the condition are at a higher risk of developing diabetes later in life.
A leading cause of blindness, kidney disease, heart disease and amputations, diabetes also claims the lives of more than 193,000 Americans each year. According to the CDC, it was the country's seventh leading cause of death by disease in 2006.
Diabetes is treatable. Although there is no "cure" various treatments allow most diabetics to live relatively stable, normal lives. Early screening, diagnosis and treatment also prevent or reduce the more serious consequences of the disease — emergency room visits, hospitalization, loss of sight, loss of limbs.
Once diagnosed, diabetes requires self-management, including testing and monitoring blood glucose levels. Because treatment requires patient education, special equipment and supplies, it can become costly especially when it is not covered by health insurance.
The Role of State Laws: States have recognized the major effects diabetes plays, both in its impact on patients and on society. As of mid-2009, 46 states and the District of Columbia have some law that requires health insurance policy coverage for diabetes treatment. Laws in Mississippi, Missouri and Washington require only that insurers offer coverage, but not necessarily include the coverage in all active policies. Most states require coverage for both direct treatment and for diabetes equipment and supplies that are often used by the patient at home. The four states that do not have a mandate or insurance requirement are Alabama, Idaho, North Dakota and Ohio. State tables include the enacted state laws passed since the first California mandates in 1981 and New York's in 1993, through early 2009.
Economic Costs of Diabetes in the United States The estimated total cost of diabetes in 2007 was $174 billion:
Includes $116 billion in excess medical expenditures and $58 billion in reduced national productivity