'Diabetes Health Plan' now available from UHC

Kim Morris | May 20, 2009

This post comes from a press release issued by UnitedHealthcare of Illinois and is repoduced on this blog because we beleive it marks a significant step forward in the struggle to provide affordable health insurance to diabetics. Although this plan is not immediately available to most of our blog readers, we hope to soon report on introduction of similar plans with a wider basis of eligibility. Meanwhile, the article "Health Insurance for Diabetics" remains the best resource for starting a search for individual health insurance in this circumstance.

Unitedhealthcare of Illinois, a UnitedHealth Group company, now offers a health care plan designed to help the rapidly growing numbers of diabetics and pre-diabetics manage their conditions more effectively while controlling employers' escalating costs of insuring them.

The first-of-its-kind Diabetes Health Plan will help diabetic and pre-diabetic people who routinely follow independent, medically proven steps to help manage their condition - such as regular blood sugar checks, routine exams and preventive screenings - and use wellness coaching. Benefits include some diabetes supplies and diabetes-related prescription drugs at no charge, as well as lower co-payments for related doctor visits, at an estimated savings of up to $500 a year.

"The Diabetes Health Plan provides incentives to empower diabetics and pre-diabetics to take charge of their health and well-being, helping them delay or prevent the onset of dangerous diabetic complications later in life, which in turn should help employers lower the cost of providing health benefits," said Dr. Sam Ho, UnitedHealthcare's executive vice president and chief medical officer.

According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2007 nearly 24 million people in the United States had diabetes, 24 percent of whom were undiagnosed. Another 57 million are considered pre-diabetic, with about a fourth of them unaware of their condition.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that two-thirds of all diabetics do not follow their physicians' advice on how to manage their disease. Experts say out-of-pocket costs for recommended supplies, medicines and physician-visit co-pays are a key reason many diabetics do not follow treatment guidelines.

Another reason is lack of knowledge about diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions. By lowering financial barriers and providing wellness coaching, training and information, and a real-time compliance monitoring system and personal health record, UnitedHealthcare's Diabetes Health Plan provides new incentives to help people better manage their health.

UnitedHealthcare anticipates that increased preventive steps by Diabetes Health Plan participants can help lower health care costs for employers. Total estimated annual cost of a diabetic is greater than $22,000 a year, which is 13-times higher than the average cost of a "healthy" employee (defined as an individual with no chronic disease), according to UnitedHealthcare data.

Diabetes Health Plan participants who regularly follow their treatment plans can receive access to online monitoring and education tools at no charge, in addition to self-monitoring training and certain diabetes-related drugs (insulin, oral anti-glycemics, ARB and ACE, anti-depressants and statins) and services.

The plan also provides a voluntary screening model to help people determine if they have undiagnosed diabetes or suffer from pre-diabetes conditions. To remain enrolled in the program, participants must comply with diabetes and preventive care evidence-based guidelines.

Tags : diabetes

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