For Americans, the cost of diabetes has never been greater. Not only does the disease harm citizens, it also puts a tremendous financial burden on the country. More than 29.1 million people in the United States suffer from diabetes, and diabetes costs its citizens in excess of $245 billion per year.
A major cost associated with medical care for people with diabetes 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 more than $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 healthcare 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 healthcare costs,” Spinosa added.
To learn more and to find a podiatrist in your area, visit www.apma.org.