Diabetes drives expensive hospitalizations in CA

Diabetes is endemic in the United States, and it generates an outsized number of pricey hospitalizations in California, according to a new study.

Diabetes is behind about a third of all hospitalizations in California, according to the study, and diabetes-related hospitalizations cost on average about $2,200 more than other kinds of inpatient admissions. In California alone, that adds up to $1.6 billion a year in extra costs.

The data came from a study undertaken by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. It noted that in some California counties, the rate of patients who are in the hospital and also suffer from diabetes topped 40 percent.

"Diabetes … affects most body systems in one way or another," Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and one of the authors of the study, told Kaiser Health News. "If you have diabetes, it's more challenging to treat anything." He added that the condition is almost always preventable if a patient has a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Nationwide, diabetes affects about 21 million Americans, according to a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Minority groups such as African-Americans and Latinos are disproportionately affected. The UCLA data suggested that they have higher hospitalization rates than whites.

And while diabetes itself can apparently drive up healthcare costs, so do even incremental advances in technology that help better monitor a patient with diabetes and other chronic medical conditions, although evidence suggests some mobile monitoring tools can reduce the costs of care by as much as $3,000 a year for some individuals.

The UCLA report recommended several changes in policy, including requiring insurers to provide coverage for early detection and screening programs, posting warning labels on sugary drinks and prohibiting the marketing of foodstuffs that could cause diabetes on public school campuses.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- check out the UCLA study (.pdf)