Diabetes in America

More and more Americans are diagnosed with any type of diabetes each year. There are 34.2 million Americans that have been diagnosed with Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes has the most diagnoses each year. Out of all diabetics, 96% have Type 2 Diabetes (32.95 million). Roughly 5% of diabetics are Type 1 (1.25 million). 40,000 new type one diagnoses happen each year. There are more types of diabetes including prediabetes, and gestational diabetes. These types are not included in the statistics listed in this post. 

Type 1 Diabetes has become harder and harder to find a cure. The reasoning behind this is because people are being diagnosed from something other than genetics. People think that you can only get diagnosed with diabetes if someone in your family also has it. In most cases lately, family members do not have it. I spoke with someone that I know that was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a few years ago. He said that no one in his family had type 1 diabetes. Before he was starting to notice the symptoms, he had a really bad cold. The doctor’s belief is that the virus has caused the pancreas to stop producing insulin. I personally know more than 10 people that have type 1 diabetes. In my extended family, I know 3 people. Throughout my college time, I met 3-4 people with diabetes. I also have 3-4 people from my jobs that have diabetes. As mentioned above, 1.25 million people in the US have Type 1 Diabetes. The ADA has expected that 5 million people will be diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes by the year 2050. This is because of the people being diagnosed that do not have it in their family. There are environmental factors that cause people to be diagnosed with diabetes. This includes viruses that people have right before they are diagnosed. Certain viruses will attack beta cells and they will attack the wrong beta cells. Another cause is immune responses. There is an immune attack on beta cells and continues to attack causing insulin production to drop until there is no insulin production. For me, I was diagnosed right after I turned 14. It was the time where puberty started happening in my body. My doctors believe that while my body was changing that changes happened in my pancreas and I stopped producing insulin. There is no known official cause of how I was diagnosed with diabetes. 

One of the most difficult things about diabetes right now is the cost of insulin. Some people are not fortunate enough to afford insurance or even pay for insulin out of pocket. Luckily, I have 2 insurances which cover most of my insulin and supplies costs. Out of 4 Americans, 1 person has to ration insulin because of the cost. A vial of insulin costs around $325 per vial. Each vial contains 10mL of insulin which is 10,000 units. This may seem like a lot but an average diabetic will use one vial of insulin per month. Not only is there the cost of insulin, diabetics also have to pay for syringes which costs about $15-$20 for a box of 100. There are also insulin pens that diabetes can use which are easier than syringes. The pens are where you screw on a needle tip to the top of the pen and turn the knob to how many units you need. Insulin pens cost around $600 for a box of 5 pens. Each pen contains 3mL of insulin which is 300 units. This means that there is 15mL of insulin in the box that costs $600. Along with this, people have to then pay for the needles that go on the pen. Those cost about $30 per box of 90 needles. The last type of insulin delivery is an insulin pump. This is a device that costs about $6,000 out of pocket plus $3,000-$6,000 in supplies. This is the most expensive but makes diabetes easier to manage. Diabetes is expensive to manage. Along with insulin and the delivery system, you still have to pay for doctors visits, low blood sugar supplies, medical alert gear and more. Doctors visits can be paid for through insurance. This is suggested because diabetics have to have an annual eye exam, biannual dental exam, endocrinologist visit every 3-4 months and any additional doctors such as dieticians. When a diabetic has low blood sugar, they have to consume a sugary drink like apple juice or orange juice. Diabetics also carry frosting, glucose tabs and other sugary candy just in case they go low. When diabetics have high blood sugar they have to check for ketones in their system. These ketone strips can be purchased at the pharmacy and bought with insurance if you have it. All diabetics should be carrying something that lets people know they are a diabetic. This includes a necklace, bracelet, tattoo, smart watch band and more. This is so that if someone for example is walking down the street alone and collapses, an emt, policeman or pedestrian will know they are a diabetic. Some other costs that diabetics pay for are alcohol pads. This is for before and after they check their blood sugar and inject themselves with insulin. Diabetics also use sticky tac pads that help the insulin pump site to stick better to their body. 

Some diabetics have a hard time managing their blood sugar levels. You have to check your blood sugar everytime you wake up and before you go to bed. You also have to check it before and after every meal or snack you eat. This adds up to around 5-7 times per day. There is a device called a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) that diabetics use to lessen the amount of finger pricks per day. This also costs more than $1,000 for the device as well as more than $1,000 for supplies. The CGM is inserted for around 10 days and continuously monitors your blood glucose. Different CGMs have different devices to tell you what your blood glucose is. I have the Dexcom which allows me to see my levels on my iPhone and Apple watch. It is also connected with my insulin pump so I can see my levels on there as well. Some diabetics cannot afford to pay for this system which makes it harder for them to manage it. Less than ⅓ of diabetics in the US have targeted blood sugar levels. This estimates to about 400,000 Type 1 Diabetic Americans have normal blood sugar levels. Once most diabetics are able to have a CGM system, this number will increase dramatically.







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