Story at a glance
- Diabetes deaths have exceeded 100,000 in the United States for the second consecutive year.
- Approximately 37 million Americans have diabetes, while 96 million U.S. adults are prediabetic.
- Those who struggle to control their diabetes are twice as likely to die of COVID-19.
Diabetes deaths have exceeded 100,000 in the United States for the second consecutive year, according to a report by Reuters.
Reuters analyzed exclusive data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to compare the number of diabetics and diabetes-related deaths in the U.S. over recent years.
Diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2019 and was responsible for more than 87,000 deaths. In 2020, deaths due to diabetes increased by 17 percent from 2019, to more than 100,000 deaths. In 2021, diabetes-related deaths also surpassed 100,000, increasing 15 percent from 2019. This data excludes deaths of diabetics that were ruled to have been caused by COVID-19.
“The large number of diabetes deaths for a second year in a row is certainly a cause for alarm,” Paul Hsu, an epidemiologist at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, told Reuters.
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The exponential costs diabetes patients face to acquire doctor’s visits and medications has forced many to ration their insulin — a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels and is used to manage diabetes — or forgo the necessary treatments altogether. Insulin costs on average 800 percent more in the U.S. than in similar developed countries.
President Biden’s Build Back Better Act includes provisions to cap the cost of insulin at $35. However, the plan is facing criticism from patients and advocates, as it only applies to patients using Medicare or those who have private group or individual health insurance plans.
Approximately 37 million Americans, or 11 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes, while 96 million U.S. adults are prediabetic, and the numbers continue to rise.
The increasing number of Americans who have diabetes, coupled with the struggles to purchase insulin and access medical treatment has left diabetics at a greater disadvantage amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to the report, those who struggle to control their diabetes are twice as likely to die of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, further job losses due to the coronavirus pandemic has only further complicated diabetes patients’ efforts to afford their medications and medical needs.
“People with diabetes and other chronic illnesses were already facing challenges well before the pandemic hit, and COVID has only made these problems worse,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Senate Health Committee, told Reuters in a statement. “It is absolutely crucial to research and find solutions to better support diabetes patients and get them the care they need.”
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