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Using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), researchers estimated that Americans with diabetes born between 1931 and 1941 cost the country a staggering $133.5 billion by the year 2000. For the study, the researchers factored in sick days, disability, early retirement, and premature death among a national household sample of older adults interviewed over an 8-year period as part of the HRS. Since 1992, HRS conducted interviews every 2 years with a nationally representative sample of 22,000 Americans aged 50 and older to evaluate major trends in health and economic well-being.
Reporting in Health Services Research (December 2004), the researchers found that between 1992 and 2000 the average individual with diabetes lost $2800 in wages because of early retirement, $630 due to sick days, and $22,100 as a result of disability. Because the analysis was limited to a narrow age group, the total cost of lost productivity due to diabetes is much higher, stressed the researchers.