Objectives: To estimate the total direct medical costs to society for patients with type 2 diabetes in Sweden and to investigate how different factors, for example diabetic late complications, affect costs.
Design: Cross-sectional data regarding health care utilization, clinical characteristics and quality of life, were collected at a single time-point. Data on resource use cover the 6-month period prior to this time point.
Setting: Patient recruitment and data collection were performed in nine primary care centres in three main regions in Sweden.
Subjects: Only patients with an age at diabetes diagnosis >/= 30 years (type 2 diabetes) were included (n = 777).
Results: The total annual direct medical costs for the Swedish diabetes type 2 population were estimated at about 7 billion SEK (Swedish Kronor) in 1998 prices, which is about 6% of the total health care expenditures and more than four times higher than the former Swedish estimate obtained when using diabetes as main diagnosis for calculating costs. The annual per patient cost was about 25 000 SEK. The largest share of this cost was hospital inpatient care. Costs increased with diabetes duration and were higher for patients treated with insulin compared to those treated with oral hypoglycaemic drugs or with life style modification only. Patients with both macro- and microvascular complications had more than three times higher costs compared with patients without such complications.
Conclusions: Type 2 diabetes is a serious and expensive disease and the key to reducing costs seems to be intensive management and control in order to prevent and delay the associated late complications.