Diabetes is having a major impact on health care in California, accounting for a third of all hospitalizations in the state and amounting to an extra $1.6 billion annually in costs, according to a recently released health report.
Among the report’s findings, Stanislaus County was eighth in the top 10 counties with the highest rates of diabetes.
The report, “Diabetes Tied to a Third of California Hospital Stays, Driving Health Care Costs Higher,” was produced collaboratively by the UCLA Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. It used the hospital discharge records for individuals 35 years and older in 2011 as data.
Stanislaus County had a 34.3 percent rate of diabetes hospitalizations in 2011, according to the reports data. Diabetics were hospitalized within Stanislaus County a total of 12.203 times in that same year, amounting to more than $26.8 million in hospitalization costs.
Statewide, the rate of hospitalizations for patients with diabetes was at 31 percent, with an estimated $1.6 billion in hospitalization costs. Three-quarters of that care is paid through Medicare and Medi-Cal, the study authors found, including $254 million in costs that are paid by Medi-Cal alone.
Patients with diabetes have hospital costs that are on average $2,200 more per stay than for those patients without diabetes, regardless of the primary reason for hospitalization.
"If you have diabetes, you are more likely to be hospitalized and your stay will cost more," said Ying-Ying Meng, lead author of the study and a researcher at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. "There is now overwhelming evidence to show that diabetes is devastating not just to patients and families but to the whole health care system."
While the study shows that diabetes has a significant impact on every community across the state, hospitalization records reveal that ethnic communities are most dramatically impacted. Of all Latino hospital patients in California who are 35 years old or older, 43.2 percent have diabetes, compared with the statewide average of 31 percent. American Indians/Alaska Natives are similarly impacted, with 40.3 percent of hospital patients having diabetes, followed closely by African-Americans (39.3 percent) and Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders (38.7 percent).
“Diabetes is hitting every community hard, but the disproportionate number of hospital patients with diabetes among California’s ethnic groups is especially worrisome,” said Dr. Susan Babey, a researcher at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and one of the study’s co-authors
Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose (sugar) levels rise higher than normal. Diabetes can be managed with proper treatment, and complications from type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed with change in diet and exercise and close monitoring of blood sugar levels.
The disease is responsible for a long list of complications, including blindness, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, amputations and premature death. Since 1980, diabetes cases have more than tripled nationally to 20.9 million. In California alone, diabetes cases have increased by 35 percent in 10 years.
“For far too many families, diabetes has become a common and painful reality,” said Dr. Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. “In very stark terms, this study shows local health care providers and policymakers the enormity of the diabetes epidemic in their counties.”