Today is the first Friday in the month of November, and I will be wearing BLUE. If you are not aware, November is American Diabetes Month. A goal of this effort is to bring attention to the fact that nearly 26 million Americans are living with diabetes, and another 79 million are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Blue Fridays is an initiative to bring attention to World Diabetes Day (November 14th), American Diabetes Month, and the impact that the disease has on those who are living with it. World Diabetes Day signifies that the disease is impacting more than Americans, but rather is a world-wide health issue. I encourage you to check out the links in this post for more information.
Employer Health Plans
I realize that the overwhelming majority of HR Soot readers are above-average people with an interest in human resources, or a loosely related professional discipline. As I recently disclosed, diabetes has become a very personal issue for me, and has also changed my world views concerning employee benefit plan design and administration.
From a HR/benefits perspective, we should all be concerned that the 26 million Americans currently living with diabetes, and the additional 79 million who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes are the participants and dependents in our health plans. According to studies cited by Aurora Health Care, diabetes has been identified as the 3rd most costly physical health condition for employers, and the average diabetic plan participant has an annual cost of approximately $21,000. The good news is that several studies conducted by health plans (including those cited in the Aurora link) demonstrate that diabetes costs can be effectively managed in health plans by helping participants to actively engage in treating and managing their disease.
It Begins with Awareness
The effort to support our employees, and control our health plan expenses begins with awareness. We can help our diabetic employees to better understand and manage their disease by providing ample resources and liberal, first-dollar plan coverage that more than pays for itself. We can also help those employees at risk for type 2 diabetes to understand and eliminate many of the risk factors, which are little more than lifestyle choices. Even if you are among those who believe that it is not a moral imperative for employers to engage employees at this level, at its core it is the right economic choice to help mitigate the rising cost of your employer’s health insurance.
I invite you to join me in wearing BLUE each and every Friday during the month of November.
I would be thrilled to spark a dialogue among HR and benefits professionals around strategies to reduce health plan costs through better diabetes management. What do you think about the employer’s role in chronic disease management?