WASHINGTON—For Americans, the cost of diabetes has never been greater. Not only does the disease cause detriment to the well-being of citizens, it also puts a tremendous financial burden on the country. More than 29.1 million people in the US suffer from diabetes, and diabetes costs us upwards of $245 billion per year.
A major cost associated with diabetic medical care is lower-limb amputation. Diabetes can cause patients to lose sensation in their extremities, so an individual may not immediately notice injuries to his or her feet. This condition can cause diabetic ulcers—wounds on the feet that are slow to heal and prone to infection—which often require amputation. In 2013, about 73,000 Americans with diabetes needed amputations. The average cost for each amputation is over $70,000.
“For those who have diabetes or are at risk for the disease, regular checkups by a podiatrist are one of the easiest ways to prevent most foot complications,” said American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) President Frank Spinosa, DPM. “Including a podiatrist in your care can reduce amputation rates by as much as 85 percent.”
A study by APMA found that among patients with commercial insurance, each $1 invested in care by a podiatrist results in $27 to $51 of savings for the health-care system. Among Medicare-eligible patients, each $1 invested in care by a podiatrist results in $9 to $13 of savings.
“With proactive foot care, diabetes patients can reduce the risk of infection and amputation, improve function and quality of life and reduce health care costs,” Dr. Spinosa added.
To learn more, and to find a podiatrist in your area, visit www.apma.org.
View an infographic on the cost of diabetes nationwide.
The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) is the nation's leading professional organization for today’s podiatrists. Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPMs) are qualified by their education, training, and experience to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and structures of the leg. APMA has 53 state component locations across the United States and its territories, with a membership of more than 12,000 podiatrists. All practicing APMA members are licensed by the state in which they practice podiatric medicine. For more information, visit www.apma.org.
Nora Younes, MA