A recent study found that diabetes prevention programs can help organizations save thousands of dollars per person. As a condition, diabetes may have lost the limelight once again to a new variant of the coronavirus, but HR teams are well-advised to take it seriously and act now.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is the most expensive chronic condition in the United States. The numbers are alarming: American employers face a total annual cost of $327 billion from the illness. $237 billion of that sum constitutes direct medical costs. But employers also lose another $90 billion in productivity.
One in ten Americans currently has chronic diabetes. As many as one in every three people is considered prediabetic. Prediabetics have raised blood sugar levels, but those values are not yet high enough for them to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
To put this into perspective – one out of every four dollars spent on healthcare in the country cares for people with diabetes. Costs have risen by 60% between 2007 and 2017. Half and two-thirds of a diabetes sufferer’s lifetime medical costs are spent on the condition and its complications. The U.S. economy has been facing a diabetes epidemic for years.
Most diabetics in the United States and worldwide have type 2 diabetes, which develops slowly and is closely related to lifestyle factors. A person’s activity level and diet strongly influence whether someone develops diabetes.
On the other hand, type 1 diabetes develops quickly and is caused by factors related to genetics. Experts believe that most type 2 diabetics suffer from prediabetes before developing chronic diabetes.
Prediabetes is both a severe medical condition and a massive opportunity for prevention. Prediabetics have raised blood sugar levels, often for several years. They may already suffer some of diabetes’ side effects. However, while blood sugar levels remain within the prediabetic range, it is possible to stop the patient’s condition from deteriorating. In some cases, prediabetes can even be reversed.
Preventing diabetes helps your organization by creating a healthier workforce. Perhaps more importantly, prevention has the potential of saving your business thousands of dollars per person in healthcare costs. Diabetes prevention needs to be part of your company’s financial strategy.
The extent of the savings companies can make is highlighted in a recent study. Researchers evaluated data from more than 8,000 adults. They estimated the medical expenditures among those with prediabetes and combined their findings with the results of previous studies.
The scientists found that healthcare costs for diabetes patients are one-third (or $2,671) higher than people who did not develop the condition within one to three years of being tested. The researchers then added the potential effect of a national diabetes prevention program like the one offered by the CDC into the equation. They found significant savings. The three-year return-on-investment (ROI) has been estimated to be higher than 40%.
Eighty-eight million American adults are currently suffering from prediabetes and at risk of developing chronic type 2 diabetes. The problem is that more than 80% of those individuals have no idea that they are at risk.
As an HR professional or a manager, you have both a responsibility and an opportunity to help your team have a healthier future. Diabetes prevention starts with testing and knowing who is currently suffering from prediabetes.
Platforms like diabetes screening from TrueCare™ start with a free risk assessment of your workforce. This complimentary analysis will take only a few minutes, and within less than a minute, you receive an initial evaluation.
The assessment will tell you what percentage of your workforce may be at risk based on age and ethnicity factors that impact a person’s risk.
This initial report will already include practical recommendations you can start implementing immediately. Next, you will schedule a consult with a clinical team member to develop a plan of action.
Preventing type 2 diabetes is closely related to making healthier choices. For many, this will include losing weight, changing their diet, and including more exercise in their daily routine.
The key is to aim for realistic, sustainable outcomes for your team. If you already have a wellness strategy in place, you may add diabetes prevention to it. Employers can also help make healthier choices easier by restocking their vending machines and offering more nutritive work functions. Encouraging those working from home to eat healthily and build light exercise into their schedule is another option.
Diabetes prevention programs are as individual as companies. However, they start by identifying who is at risk and working directly with those individuals. Prevention is highly cost-effective, saving employers thousands of dollars per employee following an investment of a few hundred. Plus, you will benefit from a more productive team.
TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.