Independence Blue Cross is tackling the disease from numerous fronts, including doctor and member engagement, using data to identify those in need of help, and community support
The prevalence and severity of diabetes, as well as years of life lost due to disability and risk of premature death, ranks third among more than 200 conditions, according to a new Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) Health of America study “Diabetes and the Commercially Insured U.S. Population.” The study, which leverages the claims of more than 40 million BCBS members, also showed that the health impact of diabetes continues to grow and is increasing most rapidly among members age 18 through 34. This corresponds to this age group’s spike in obesity rates, a key contributor to the onset of diabetes.
The prevalence, costs, and health impact of diabetes in the Mid-Atlantic region is on par with the national average.
Recognizing the magnitude of this problem, Independence Blue Cross supports a number of initiatives to help those with the disease better manage their condition and avoid unnecessary complications. These include:
- Rewarding doctors for helping patients better manage their diabetes, including keeping critical blood glucose levels with target ranges, getting eye screenings, and monitoring their kidney function.
- Empowering doctors by providing reports on their patients with diabetes who haven’t been seen in more than a year.
- Engaging members with diabetes through text messages to identify gaps in care, such as getting their blood glucose tests or eye exams. Members who receive these texts are 11 percent more compliant with these tests and screenings than members who are eligible for the text message program, but choose not to participate.
- Offering two Medicare Advantage programs with lower doctor visit copays for members with both diabetes and congestive heart failure who see their endocrinologist, podiatrist, and cardiologist.
- Providing health coaches who regularly help members prevent acute issues related to diabetes that might result in an ER visit, hospitalization, or worsening condition.
- Sponsoring the annual American Diabetes Association Step Out Walk, helping to raise money in the fight against diabetes.
According to data from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) Health Index, diabetes is one of five conditions responsible for nearly a third of adverse health outcomes nationwide. The others are depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, hypertension, substance use disorders, and high cholesterol.