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New Data Highlights Severe Health and Economic Impact of Pandemic on Millions Living With Diabetes

Survey of those living with diabetes shows unemployment for this group at a staggering 18%

Alarming new data shows the disturbing trend within the diabetes population in the United States of high unemployment and worsening health outcomes as they are severely and disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This impact has left over 34 million Americans living with diabetes even more vulnerable to poorer outcomes from the coronavirus and highlights the need for measures to help protect these Americans to be a top priority for elected officials.

The survey, conducted by dQ&A, in association with the American Diabetes Association, details the economic strains that millions of Americans are facing, at a time when they are already facing a daunting threat from severe complications and outcomes from COVID-19.

Diabetes is the second most common underlying health condition among US COVID-19 cases, and nearly 90% of hospitalized American patients have diabetes or another underlying condition.

Key survey results showing this disproportionate impact on millions of Americans:

• Unemployment: In June, 18% of people with diabetes were unemployed or furloughed, compared with the national rate of 12%. One-third of people with diabetes who were working before the current pandemic have lost some or all income. Specifically, of the low-income Americans living with diabetes, one-half have lost some or all income and 7 out of 10 self-employed Americans living with diabetes have lost some or all income.

• Insulin, medication, and supply rationing: 1 in 4 people with diabetes have turned to rationing to cut the cost of their diabetes care by skipping insulin or medication doses, and testing their blood glucose less often. Supply rationing is the opposite of the CDC’s advice to people with diabetes during the coronavirus pandemic. Maintaining a healthy blood glucose level is crucial to reducing severe complications from COVID-19.

• High-risk livelihood: In March, 4 in 10 working people with diabetes were in jobs that cannot be done from home. Currently, one-half of employed people with diabetes are going into work full-time or part-time. 60% of these workers are in essential industries. 22% are in health care. 9 out of 10 are often or sometimes within six feet of others at work. Only 7 out of 10 are required to wear a mask at work.

“These new numbers show the urgency needed to adopt measures to protect and assist the millions of people with diabetes who are suffering through this pandemic,” says Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association. “We need states to extend health care coverage to those who’ve lost their jobs. We need to eradicate the co-pay for insulin that millions are struggling to pay for in order to stay healthy during this pandemic. And we need to take COVID-19 testing into these high-risk communities in order to inform and stop the spread of this virus. If these actions aren’t taken immediately, we will continue to see devastating impacts and outcomes for millions of vulnerable Americans.”

“We have a population of 34 million people with diabetes who face deadly consequences if they contract COVID-19,” says Richard Wood, founder of dQ&A, a diabetes research company. “They are facing financial hardship, rationing their diabetes care to make ends meet, and being exposed to extra risk in the workplace. Keeping them healthy should be our number one goal. From a humanitarian standpoint, and to prevent our health care systems becoming overwhelmed, it’s clearly the right thing to do.”

The dQ&A results are based on a national online survey of 5,000 people with diabetes, between June 26, 2020, and July 1, 2020.

Source: American Diabetes Association