Jill Hutt, vice president of member services at the Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health (GPBCH), explains why it is cost effective for employers to address employees' prediabetes.
Health care spending for people with diabetes is 2.3 times greater than for those without, said Jill Hutt, vice president of member services at the Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health (GPBCH), when speaking to the results of Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) implementation.
What does the GPBCH have planned for the future with regard to the DPP?
Our coalition is going to continue to work with employers and stakeholders, including the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, local departments of health, and other health care stakeholders to continue to address obesity and diabetes prevention and management for the workforce and partnering to make sure we, as business leaders, can be partnering to promote it throughout the community. And, importantly, we will continue to focus on ensuring that the commercial health plans, the commercial carriers, have the capacity to administer and pay for the Diabetes Prevention Program. In so doing, that makes it easier for employers to engage with it if it's already built in, whether they're a self-funded employer who might be financing it or a fully insured employer where it's covered under their premium.
Can you discuss the importance of addressing prediabetes and diabetes prevention in general?
Most certainly, and I want to go back and also define what prediabetes is. It's a condition where a person's blood sugar is high but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. So we know we get our A1C [glycated hemoglobin] checked when we go to the doctor for the checkups and so forth. The reason it is so important for employers to address this, there's several reasons.
First of all, preventing diabetes is important because diabetes is devastating physically, emotionally, and financially and can cause serious complications, such as heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness. And it can result in reduced productivity, work related absenteeism, unemployment from chronic disability, and premature mortality. Every one of us either know somebody who has diabetes or maybe may have it ourselves. And we may know somebody who may have prediabetes.
Health care spending for people with diabetes is 2.3 times greater than those without. So of course, employers, we all want to pay attention to this so that we can reduce the costs. It costs nationwide $327 billion in indirect and direct costs. This affects 37 million Americans, diabetes does. And again, prediabetes, there are 96 more million American adults in the US that have prediabetes and 84% of them don't even know they have it. So this is why it is so important for all of us to be raising awareness about prediabetes and diabetes prevention, so that people can be aware and engage in these types of programs.
I do want to point out that it really is cost-effective. For a very small amount of $500 to $700 per person to engage in this year-long program, an employer can avoid $8000 in costs. As I'd mentioned before, many health plans do cover the program so it does make it easier to promote and have employees engaged in it.