Employee health insurance plans that include routine testing fordiabetes can potentially save livesand, in the long term, reduce employers' health coverage costs.

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A study of more than 500 people with diabetes or pre-diabetes byHealthMine found that many with either condition are not takingproper care of themselves and have significant misunderstandingsabout their disease.

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The report notes that one-quarter of individuals with diabetesdon’t know they have it. That should be reason enough for employersto include testing for diabetes in any health plan. Further,HealthMine said, 30 percent of those with pre-diabetes are unawarethat the disease is reversible, and 58 percent of them have takenno action to minimize their chances of progressing to Type 2diabetes.

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Of those surveyed, just 37 percent have access to an employersponsored wellness plan, where they would likelybe diagnosed and their disease treatment plan would be monitored.Of those who are enrolled in a wellness plan, the report said, 91percent participate in the program.

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“Today, diabetes is in control of Americans,” said BryceWilliams, CEO and President of HealthMine. “We need to turn thataround. Personal clinical engagement is the key to educating andmotivating those who are sick to take action and take charge oftheir chronic disease. With better guidance from plan sponsors andreal disease management, we can start to reign in the $322 billionannual bill for diabetes.”

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Among other findings from the survey:

  • 48 percent report they have lost work time in the past year and52 percent say that their condition has lowered their productivitywhile at work;

  • 59 percent of respondents are not in a healthy weight range and30 percent are smokers, both of which can aggravatediabetes;

  • 73 percent report difficulty coping with their illness and 66percent feel their diabetes is not completely under control;

  • 67 percent have had health complications, and 72 percent have atleast one other chronic condition;

  • 20 percent have chronic pain, cardiovascular disease or mentalillness;

  • 39 percent have had to go to the emergency room or to urgentcare within the past year because of their chronic condition;

  • 45 percent use mobile applications to track theirdiabetes/pre-diabetes.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.