A new study published in the journal Health Affairs estimates that people suffering from diabetes can expect to lose more than $160,000 over his or her lifetime compared to those without the disease (via Kaiser Health News). The study linked lower earnings to higher high school dropout rates, potentially due to more health-related absences.
The authors of the study followed 15,000 subjects from adolescence to age 30. On average, the high school dropout rate for people with diabetes is 6% higher than for people who do not have the disease. Youngsters with diabetes are also less likely to go to college.
All of this leads to a more difficult job search later on in life. According to the study, “high school and college graduates earn 1.5 and 2.7 times more than high school dropouts, respectively.”
In fact, by the age 30 people living with diabetes are 10% less likely to be employed and can expect annual penalties of up to $6,000 when employed. The report concluded that the lifetime earnings penalty from diabetes is $160,000 per person based on a 40-year working life.
The researchers noted that other factors might be responsible for lower earnings. People with diabetes were 10% more likely to have reported absences and, consequently, the employers could be passing down the portion of the medical and productivity-related costs to the employee through lower wages.
Employees with diabetes could also find themselves dealing with a “job lock” phenomenon, in which case they do not look for better paying jobs for the fear of losing their health insurance.