Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Health Reform? We’re on it.

Last week was an historic week.  Whether people agreed or disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act, the nation noted that the way we go about the business of health care is about to change. But health care modernization did not begin -- and must not end -- with the Court’s decision.

With the goal of creating a more pro-patient approach to health care, everyone along the health care continuum must share information, simplify processes and provide affordable health care coverage options so consumers can access health services in a more thoughtful way as each works to live a healthier life. To that end, UnitedHealthcare is building partnerships to bring education and treatment options to the broadest audiences possible -- in the most convenient and cost-effective ways.

Case in point: diabetes. With the disease growing at an alarming rate in this country some experts have even named us the “Diabetic States of America.” Nearly 26 million, or 11.3 percent of U.S. citizens over the age of 20 are diabetic - 35 percent are prediabetic, meaning that glucose levels are high enough to be causing health problems, which, if left untreated, can lead to Type 2 diabetes. By 2020, the numbers are estimated to grow to 15 percent with diabetes and 37 percent prediabetic. By 2050, one in three U.S. adults will likely have Type 2 diabetes.

And those aren’t the only scary numbers. It costs about $3,700 a year on average to treat prediabetes. If the condition ultimately progresses to advanced diabetes, those costs jump to more than $20,000. So, for a 10,000 life employer, about 40 percent of its total medical spend is a result of direct and indirect costs related to these two conditions.

Here’s where the partnerships come in. On the national level we’ve partnered with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the YMCA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to bring the Diabetes Prevention Program to local communities. The national Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) study led by NIH and supported by the CDC reduced the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. On the local level we have partnered with YMCA branches across the county and Comcast corporation in Philadelphia and Tennessee to launch diabetes prevention programs to help individuals prevent or eliminate the onset of diabetes – whether a UnitedHealthcare customer or not.

Diabetes is a weighty adversary but with continued teamwork and creativity, I know we can do this together!

Visit Unitedhealthcare’s website for more resources on diabetes.

Deneen Vojta, M.D. (center), senior vice president, UnitedHealth Group and chief clinical officer, Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance served as a panelist at the launch of the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program held at Philadelphia City Hall on June 29, 2012. Joining her are (L-R):  Dr. Donald Schwarz, health commissioner and Philadelphia deputy mayor for health opportunity; Ali Gorman,R.N., 6ABC health reporter; Vojta; Aimee Smith, senior program specialist,YMCA of Philadelphia & Vicinity; Heather Hodge, manager, YMCA of the USA; and Kris Ernst, program consultant, Centers for Disease Control.

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