UnitedHealthcare has just taken a major step outside the box of health insurance. It’s a health insurance plan customized to help the rapidly growing numbers of diabetics and pre-diabetics manage their conditions more effectively while controlling employers’ escalating costs of insuring them.
This first-of-its-kind Diabetes Health Plan will reward diabetic and pre-diabetic individuals who routinely follow independent, medically proven steps to help manage their condition – such as regular blood sugar checks, routine exams and preventive screenings – and use wellness coaching.
Benefits include some diabetes supplies and diabetes-related prescription drugs at no charge, as well as lower co-payments for related doctor visits, at an estimated savings of up to $500 a year.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), in 2007 nearly 24 million people in the U.S. had diabetes, 24 percent of whom were undiagnosed. Another 57 million are considered pre-diabetic, with about a fourth of them unaware of their condition. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that two-thirds of all diabetics do not follow their physicians’ advice on how to manage their disease. Experts say out-of-pocket costs for recommended supplies, medicines and physician-visit co-pays are a key reason why many diabetics do not follow treatment guidelines. Another is lack of knowledge about diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions.
By lowering financial barriers and providing wellness coaching, training and information, and a real-time compliance monitoring system and personal health record,
UnitedHealthcare’s Diabetes Health Plan provides many new incentives to help people better manage their health. Diabetes Health Plan participants who regularly follow their treatment plans can receive access to online monitoring and education tools at no charge, in addition to self-monitoring training and certain diabetes-related drugs (insulin, oral anti-glycemics, angiotensin receptor blockers and angio converting enzyme, anti-depressants and statins) and services.
Business Week had a good article a few months back about the pilot program we did with General Electric to evaluate the Diabetes Health Plan.
Now it’s no longer a pilot program, but a full-fledged health plan. Employers have the option of offering the program as a standalone health plan or as an enhancement to an existing traditional plan. The Diabetes Health Plan is also available to self-insured commercial health plan customers and their family members with diabetes or pre-diabetes.