The costly, life-disrupting consequences of poor diabetes care

Diabetes, when poorly controlled, can affect many key bodily systems and have costly, life-disrupting, and even fatal consequences. Especially when inadequately controlled, type 1 and type 2 diabetes can harm the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.

Diabetes, when poorly controlled, can affect many key bodily systems and have costly, life-disrupting, and even fatal consequences. Especially when inadequately controlled, type 1 and type 2 diabetes can harm the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. Still, a recent study found that many people with diabetes do not adequately control the four major factors that increase the risk of serious complications: blood glucose, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and smoking. Experts note that insurance is a big obstacle for many people who need to keep their diabetes under control—many necessary medications are financially out of reach, and policies often do not cover consultations for diet and exercise, which can reduce the need for some medications but may require more than the 15-20 minutes allocated for a doctor visit. "Having good health insurance is the strongest link to receiving comprehensive diabetes care," said Pooyan Kazemian of Massachusetts General Hospital, the lead author of the new study. "Treatment of diabetes is getting more expensive every day. The newer drugs that control blood sugar with fewer adverse events are super expensive, with an average monthly cost of about $1,000, and people without health insurance don't go to the doctor." The study, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine in October, looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 1,742 nonpregnant adults with known diabetes and 746 adults with diabetes that had not been previously diagnosed. The study found that while 94% of those with known diabetes were receiving care for their disease more than 75% did not meet all four treatment goals set by the American Diabetes Association. Furthermore, the researchers found there has been little improvement in the diagnosis or treatment of diabetes from 2005 through 2016.