Diabetes takes a staggering toll in America, and not just to individuals and the nation’s healthcare system. Absenteeism and lost productivity in the workplace also make the disease enormously expensive for employers.
Diagnosed diabetes cost the country $327 billion in 2017, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and $90 billion of that cost came from lost productivity. November is National Diabetes Month, an opportune time to consider what companies can do to help lessen the toll of this silent killer.
How common is diabetes? Consider:
- More than 10% of the United States population, 34.2 million people, have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- An additional 88 million Americans are prediabetic, the CDC says.
- Diabetes remains America’s seventh-leading killer, connected to more than a quarter million annual deaths, according to the ADA.
- Left untreated, Type 1 diabetes kills, and Type 2 and prediabetes increase the risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis.
“It is critical that individuals with diabetes focus on controlling what they can to decrease their chances of developing complications, or having existing complications progress to be more serious and even life threatening,” said Dr. Jennifer Chambers, chief medical officer at Capital Blue Cross. “That can mean improving lifestyle choices to be more active, eating healthier, stopping tobacco use, or following your doctor’s direction with respect to your medications.”
Employers can help employees avoid or manage diabetes through initiatives that urge healthy lifestyle choices, and by offering healthcare plans that don’t merely cover diabetes services, but also offer modern approaches to diabetes management. Capital Blue Cross, for instance, is expanding its broad diabetes treatment and preventive-services coverage with innovative technology.
Capital recently became the only Pennsylvania health insurer to offer a one-of-a-kind app that works to reverse Type 2 diabetes. The innovative app uses a personalized, sustainable nutrition plan to help reverse the condition. Employing each user’s distinct data, it crafts individualized diets that shift the body to a state called nutritional ketosis, in which the body primarily burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
Capital also recently announced a separate app that helps members stop prediabetes from escalating into Type 2, and helps those with types 1 or 2 manage their disease.
Both apps are free to Capital Blue Cross members with individual coverage and those with most types of employer coverage.
In addition, Capital Blue Cross:
- Reaches out to high-risk members with diabetes to provide care management opportunities.
- Sends targeted text messaging and e-mails reminding members with diabetes of required lab testing, diabetes eye exams, adherence to statin medications, and more.
- Offers multiple programs to employer groups, including a diabetes presentation, an awareness toolkit, and Take Charge, a virtual, self-paced course that helps participants develop lifestyle habits to control diabetes.
“These forward-thinking apps and Capital’s broad coverage offer our members proactive options in their battle with diabetes,” Dr. Chambers said. “Whether someone has Type 1, Type 2, or prediabetes, we are here to help our members lead a healthier life through better management of their condition.”