This content is presented in sponsorship with Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield
Employer-sponsored health plans want to stem the costly tide of diabetes. Your health insurer should, too
Employees are a natural extension of their employer. When an employee faces a life-changing health complication—like diabetes—costs associated with that diagnosis may be experienced in tandem by the employer. Costs may be absorbed by employer-sponsored health coverage, such as increased premium and cost sharing, as well as workplace costs such as absenteeism, inability to work and lost productivity.
In 2018, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) published a report showing that diabetes is the most expensive chronic condition in America, and indicated that 25% of healthcare spend—or one of every four dollars—is incurred by someone with diabetes, and one of every seven dollars is spent directly treating it.[i]In other words, diabetes devours healthcare dollars.
What can employers do?
Employers of any size can take actionable steps to address diabetes. Often, it can be as simple as investing in health insurance that features solutions focused on better health and wellbeing. Your health insurer should have a shared goal of reducing diabetes, too. But not all employer-sponsored health plans are made equally.
Look for programs focused on healthy living and diabetes management, all with a goal of educating people with diabetes on how to manage their condition and prevent future complications and costs. Also, have a conversation with your health insurer or broker about the case management or wellness tools and resources that are available. Here are some things to look for:
#1: Meet your employees where they’re at (Hint: It’s on their phone)
The shift to virtual care is happening in real-time. In 2019, 94 percent of U.S. employers believed that virtual healthcare solutions would have an impact on the healthcare delivery system.[iii]And more of today’s workforce see the appeal of virtual healthcare solutions.
Diabetes shouldn’t be any different. Finding virtual diabetes solutions can help your employees be more engaged in their chronic condition while receiving care in a way that they prefer. Virtual diabetes solutions can include timely text messages about glucose testing, virtual visits and counseling, text messaging and more. Because it is virtual, it’s care your employees are more likely to see and use.
#2: Provide diabetes education programs and products
Many insurers have health education programs geared toward teaching your employees with diabetes good lifestyle choices. These health education programs teach healthy living, diet, exercise and other options for employees with diabetes. Resources like these can help your population with diabetes better manage the condition. A comprehensive diabetes strategy needs to include plenty of educational opportunities, including information on how to reduce diabetes risk factors and easily understood employee engagement about the programs and benefits available (so they’ll use them).
Some insurers even offer a discount or rebate on diabetes equipment like lancets, strips and meters for employees as an incentive to participate in the program.
#3: One-on-one support
It’s hard to beat a one-on-one conversation with a healthcare worker—particularly one well versed in helping people with a specific chronic condition like diabetes. Some insurers take a one-size-fits-all approach to health management, while others deliver more tailored, one-on-one support. For many employees, personal input from a registered nurse case manager can make a big difference in tackling diabetes. The one-on-one approach can allow your employees more flexibility to stick with their primary care doctor’s treatment plan while also incorporating more of the tools and resources available through the health plan.
You can make a difference
As an employer, you have options when it comes to keeping your employees with chronic conditions healthy, engaged and active. Do your research and look for proven resources that might help your employees manage their diabetes, or prevent prediabetes from becoming even worse.
Learn more about how one local health insurer—Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield—is taking the fight to diabetes with its suite of health management solutions.
[ii]“30 million Americans now have diabetes.” WebMD: 2018. Online: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20180919/30-million-americans-now-have-diabetes#:~:text=19%2C%202018%20(HealthDay%20News),than%204%20percent%20are%20undiagnosed (Accessed July 15, 2020)
[iii]“2020 large employers’ health care strategy and plan design survey.” National Business Group on Health: 2019. Online: www.businessgrouphealth.org/en/resources/2020-large-employershealth-care-strategy-and-plan-design-survey (Accessed February 2020)