Medical costs are higher for children with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes than healthy youths

Young people who have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes have significantly higher annual medical expenses than children who do not have the disease, according to a new study from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The fact that medical expenses tend to be higher among children with diabetes may not be surprising. However, the researchers said that they were not expecting to see such a dramatic difference between the two groups. The findings underscore the financial burden that the disease can place on families.

The investigators reported in the journal Diabetes Care that the average annual medical expenses for a diabetic child run as high as $9,061. For youths who are free of the disease, average annual costs are below $1,500.

Insulin therapies proved to be one of the greatest drivers of medical spending. The cost of caring for a diabetic child who required insulin was $9,333 on average, while diabetic children who took oral medicine to control blood sugar required $5,683 in spending.

This may be particularly burdensome to families given the fact that the study found that 92 percent of child diabetics require insulin treatment.

"Young people with diabetes face medical costs that are six times higher than their peers without diabetes," said Ann Albright, director of CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation. "Most youth with diabetes need insulin to survive and the medical costs for young people on insulin were almost 65 percent higher than for those who did not require insulin to treat their diabetes."

The researchers obtained their results by analyzing medical claims from nearly 50,000 young people under the age of 19. More than 8,000 of these children had either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.