The incidence and costs of hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes

Am J Manag Care. 2011 Oct;17(10):673-80.


Objectives: To estimate the rate and costs of hypoglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Study design: We used a retrospective cohort design to assess the rate and costs of hypoglycemia among working-age patients with type 2 diabetes in the 2004 to 2008 MarketScan database.

Methods: We followed patients from cohort entry to the first instance of hypoglycemia requiring medical intervention (inpatient, emergency department [ED], or outpatient) and calculated incidence rates (IRs), stratifying these estimates by age (18-34, 35-49, 50-64, and 65+ years) and gender. We calculated inflation-adjusted total and mean direct costs of medical visits for hypoglycemia, other diabetes-related visits, and all other medical visits.

Results: The cohort was composed of 536,581 members with approximately 1.21 million person years (p-yrs) of follow-up. The IR of hypoglycemic events leading to an inpatient admission, ED, or outpatient visit was 153.8/10,000 p-yrs. The IRs of hypoglycemic events were highest in adults aged 18 to 34 years (218.8/10,000 p-yrs). Regardless of age group, rates of hypoglycemia were greater in women than in men (P < .001). Total hypoglycemia costs were $52,223,675 over the study period and accounted for 1.0% of all inpatient costs, 2.7% of ED costs, and 0.3% of outpatient costs. The mean costs for hypoglycemia visits were $17,564 for an inpatient admission, $1387 for an ED visit, and $394 for an outpatient visit.

Conclusions: The overall incidence of visits for hypoglycemia was considerable in this large database, and was associated with high per-episode costs. Continued vigilance and the development of strategies to decrease potentially avoidable hypoglycemic episodes requiring medical intervention are needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / economics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / economics*
  • Hypoglycemia / epidemiology
  • Hypoglycemia / etiology*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult