The incidence and costs of hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes

Brian J. Quilliam, University of Rhode Island
Jason C. Simeone, University of Rhode Island
A. Burak Ozbay, University of Rhode Island
Stephen J. Kogut, University of Rhode Island


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 personyears (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.