KEY TAKEAWAY: Health care spending in the United States increased by about $933.5 billion between 1996 and 2013, according to an analysis published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA. Diabetes was the condition with the greatest increase in spending, rising by $64.4 billion between 1996 and 2013. Most of this money went to pharmaceuticals prescribed to treat it.
Senator Sanders can whine all he wants about the price of healthcare but the fact remains that America has become the land of the unhealthy. The single most important risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity and as a nation we are getting fatter. There are also other health conditions that are being caused by bad lifetyles:
Spending on hypertension ($47.6 billion), hyperlipidemia or high (“bad“) cholesterol ($41.9 billion), depressive disorders all contribute to higher health care costs.
A key driver of the total increase in health care expenditures between 1996 and 2013 was spending on pharmaceutical drugs. For example, $44.4 billion of the total $64.4 billion increased expenditure for diabetes was spent on medications meant to treat, as well as to prevent, the disease.
Why aren’t we addressing these issues?
So the question becomes why the hell isn’t doctors and insurance companies addressing these “lifestyle” issues with patients? Primarily because our system treats the condition, not the patient. What if, for example, patients who are in danger of getting Type 2 diabetes are required by their insurers to meet with a registered dietician and are given incentives to lose weight? What if overweight patients were given a dire warning of the effects of Type 2 diabetes?
I agree that the cost of some drugs has gotten out of hand, but we’re not doing anything to help ourselves. Now I have to eat my cheeseburger and fries.