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Study: Treating gum disease can lower pharmacy costs for diabetics

By - Last modified: November 15, 2012 at 2:27 PM

An expanded oral health study conducted by Dauphin County-based United Concordia Dental and parent company Highmark Inc. found that pharmacy costs can be reduced nearly $1,500 per year for diabetics who receive at least seven treatments for gum disease.

Earlier this year, researchers found that ongoing dental treatment for people with diabetes would result in annual medical care savings of about $1,800 through decreased hospitalizations and doctor visits.

"Clearly, these findings help broaden the argument for why it makes sense for employers to invest in robust chronic-disease specific oral health programs," said James Bramson, chief dental officer for United Concordia.

The study looked at 1.7 million patients who have both United Concordia dental and Highmark medical coverage.

The company is working with medical carriers and wellness companies to integrate oral health into employers' benefit and wellness programs, Bramson said.

The dental insurer has created UCWellness, a disease-specific program that provides 100 percent coverage for maintenance following periodontal treatment, certain surgical procedures that treat gum disease and removal of plaque and tartar in patients with gum disease.

Researchers expect the same model will be used to help predict lower medical expenses for other chronic medical conditions.