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Health Insurance Reform May Help Diabetes Treatment

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Health care reform

Health Insurance Reform May Help Diabetes Treatment

December 03, 2009


By Lisa Merolla for Body1

One in six people with diabetes have avoided or delayed necessary medical care because of high costs, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a report this week.

The report, released in honor of American Diabetes Month, describes the significance of health insurance reform for those with diabetes. It details the skyrocketing costs of diabetes care and explains why people with chronic conditions face limited health insurance options.

 Some of the more striking statistics about diabetes health costs listed in the report include:

  •  Diabetes cost the United States $174 billion in 2007, an increase of $8 billion over the last five years.
  • The total annual health care costs for a person with diabetes in 2007 was $11,744
  •  A quarter of diabetic households have health care costs equaling 10 percent or more of their household income. Eight percent have costs exceeding 20 percent of household income.
Take Action
  • Try our Cost Savings Tool to determine your annual diabetes budget and look for news ways of saving money
  • For information about health insurance on a state-by-state basis, check out this consumer guide, put together by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.
  • Even for the unemployed diabetes patient, there are insurance options such as COBRA and high-risk pools. Learn more at the American Diabetes Association website.
  • For many people, insurance does not adequately cover these costs, the report went on to say. Problems especially arise when people with diabetes lose employer-based health insurance and try to buy health insurance directly through an insurance company. In 45 states, the companies can charge a higher premium, exclude coverage for certain conditions or deny coverage all together if the patient is diagnosed with a pre-existing medical condition.

    As a result, individuals with diabetes can struggle to gain coverage. According to the report, one study found that 80 percent of diabetics went uninsured after losing coverage in a life transition, such as a job change or layoff, a move, divorce, college graduation or change in income or health status. 

    “Americans with diabetes are suffering in our current health care system,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a press release announcing the report. The report also outlined how planned reforms could help fix these problems. For example, the plan seeks to eliminate discrimination for pre-existing health conditions, set a cap on out-of-pocket costs and provide free preventative care to all insured Americans.

    The American Diabetes Association (ADA) praised the report in a press release. “It is time to bring parity and access to quality health care to all people with or at risk for diabetes,” ADA chair George Huntley said. “The health of all Americans is depending in it.”


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