A nationwide community-based lifestyle program could delay or prevent type 2 diabetes cases and save $5.7 billion in 25 years
The increasing health and economic burden of diabetes has made preventing the disease a public health priority. But investing in such chronic disease prevention programs requires a long-term horizon because many years may be required for the downstream savings to fully offset the up-front intervention cost. Using a simulation model, we projected the costs and benefits of a nationwide community-based lifestyle intervention program for preventing type 2 diabetes. Accounting for all costs to the US health care system, our results indicate that the program would break even in fourteen years. Within twenty-five years, the program would prevent or delay about 885,000 cases of type 2 diabetes in the United States and produce savings of $5.7 billion nationwide. If restricted to people ages 65–84, the program would save $2.4 billion. Thus, implementing such a program nationwide would be an efficient use of health care resources, although it might be necessary for all health insurers to participate to share prevention costs. Our results also indicate that although a prevention program would lead to cost savings in both younger and older people, it would achieve greater health and economic gains if it were directed at people under age sixty-five.