The incidence of diabetes is rising,
along with the costs of the disease, both to those who have the disease and to
the businesses that employ them.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 18
million Americans have diabetes. The
vast majority of diabetes cases—90% to 95%—are Type 2 diabetes, a condition
commonly associated with obesity (among other factors) and one that typically
surfaces as an individual ages (although recently the incidence of Type 2
diabetes has risen in children and young adults).
is the fifth leading cause of death by disease in the United States. According to a report prepared by the Lewin
Group for the American Diabetes Association, in 2002 the cost of diabetes in
the U.S. was $132 billion, including $92 billion in direct medical costs and
$40 billion in indirect costs such as disability, work loss, and premature
death. One of the reasons diabetes
costs run high is due to the many complications associated with it: heart
disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputations of the feet and
costs of diabetes and its complications are dramatically felt in the
workplace. According to a 2004 study by
UnumProvident of 1.4 million disability claims, the incidence of diabetes as a
primary cause of disability has doubled in the last three years.
places the average annual cost to employers per diabetic claimant at
$33,495. The figure includes $3,563 in
medical costs for the disease alone, $18,695 in medical costs for related
conditions, and $11,237 in diabetes-related disability costs. Also, UnumProvident found that the median
duration for short- and long-term disability attributed solely to Type 2
diabetes (and not including related conditions) was 50.5 days, compared to a
median duration of 45 days for non-diabetes claims.
the statistics surrounding diabetes are sobering, diabetes is the kind of
disease for which early intervention, lifestyle changes, and proper treatment
can make a big difference. For example,
because as many as 5.2 million of the estimated 18 million diabetes cases are
undiagnosed, diabetes awareness and education programs can help to ensure
diagnosis of the disease at an early stage.
And, because of the strong link between obesity and Type 2 diabetes,
nutrition, wellness, and physical activity are important keys in preventing and
controlling the disease.
is a Web site hosted by the National Business Group on Health and developed in
collaboration with the National Diabetes Education Program, America’s Health
Insurance Plans, and the National Business Coalition on Health. The site contains resources to help
businesses of all sizes assess the impact of diabetes in their workplace and to
help their employees manage diabetes.
Included on the site is an “Employer Showcase,” which is a series of
case studies of successful diabetes education, prevention, and management
the UnumProvident report, Type 2
Diabetes: Managing a Costly Disability, the insurer notes that employers
can play an important role in diabetes management through intervention
strategies. Suggestions offered by the
Sponsoring worksite health promotion programs that emphasize weight control,
nutrition, and exercise.
Offering an employee assistance program (EAP) that provides referrals and
access to community-based diabetes self-management services.
Contracting with health plans that provide disease management and case
management programs for diabetes and that focus on quality outcomes for this