As the nation marks American Diabetes Month, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a new report, Preventing and Treating Diabetes: Health Insurance Reform and Diabetes in America. The report came one day after Sebelius toured the East Manatee Family Healthcare Center in Bradenton, Fla. At the center, Secretary Sebelius held a roundtable discussion with Floridians with diabetes.
“Americans with diabetes are suffering in our current health care system,” Secretary Sebelius said. “Health insurance reform will help ensure these Americans can get the prescription drugs and supplies they need and bring down premiums so all Americans can have high-quality, affordable health insurance.”
As affordable treatment remains inaccessible to many Americans suffering from chronic diseases, people with diabetes shoulder some of the nation’s highest health care expenses. The report notes:
• One in six individuals with diabetes report avoiding or delaying needed medical care because of cost. Annual health care expenses for a diabetic topped $11,477 in 2007. A box of 100 test strips for blood sugar monitors can cost up to $60 while the price of a vial of insulin can range from $30 to $70, mainly because generic brands are not manufactured in the United States.
• A study showed that 80 percent of people with diabetes went uninsured after having lost coverage due to health insurance transitions triggered by job change or layoff, a move, divorce, graduation from college, or a change in income or health status.
• If all states improved diabetes control to the level of the top four best performing states, at least 39,000 fewer patients would have been admitted for uncontrolled diabetes in 2004, potentially saving $216.7 million.
• Fourteen percent of American Indians, 12 percent of African Americans, and 10 percent of Hispanics have type 2 diabetes. These rates of diabetes are greater than in the non-Hispanic White population, which has a rate of only 7 percent.
The report outlines the ways health insurance reform will lower costs and improve access to quality health care services for Americans with diabetes. Health insurance reform will lower health care costs for people with diabetes by capping annual out-of-pocket expenses, eliminate discrimination for pre-existing conditions and health status, create a health insurance exchange so families can shop for suitable plans, provide coverage for preventive screenings, and reduce health disparities so that all Americans can have access to quality, affordable health care.