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Diabetes Costs Are Spiralling Out of Control – Here Is How HR Can Help

As the fast spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to dominate the headlines, it could be easy to overlook the other epidemic threatening the United States. Diabetes is a daily reality for an estimated 34 million Americans, which costs the economy more than $300 billion every year. Employers suffer from lost productivity caused by unplanned absences. Here is how HR teams can help their teams and their company’s bottom line.

Diabetes In Numbers

More than one in ten Americans currently have diabetes, equal to just over 34% of the population. It includes both type 1 and types two diabetes. About one in five may not know they have the condition, leaving them open to long-term complications as the situation goes untreated.

More alarmingly, medical experts believe one in three Americans suffer from prediabetes, with an estimated 80% unaware of how close they are to developing chronic type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is currently the leading cause of lower-limb amputations, kidney failure, and blindness – most of which would be preventable. Over the past 20 years, twice as many adults have been diagnosed with diabetes than previously.

The Cost of Diabetes for American Employers

According to the American Diabetes Association, this chronic illness costs the country’s economy approximately $327 billion annually. This figure includes $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in reduced productivity. After two years of navigating their companies through the coronavirus pandemic, few employers can afford that.

Caring for people with diagnosed diabetes accounts for 25% of healthcare spending in the U.S. More than half of these can be directly attributed to diabetes. Breaking the costs down to the level of individual patients makes for staggering reading.

Average annual medical expenses for persons with diabetes are more than twice as high as those without this condition.

In addition, there are the indirect costs associated with diabetes, including:

– Increased absenteeism

– Reduced productivity while at work for those who are employed

– Reduced productivity for those not part of the labor force

– Diabetes-related disability leaving people unable to work

– Premature deaths

Employers and HR professionals need to take this condition seriously for the health of their teams and businesses alike.

How Diabetes Works

Someone who has diabetes has higher than normal blood sugar levels. The hormone insulin helps typically break down sugars we eat and deliver them to our cells as fuel. If this process is disrupted and blood sugar levels are left uncontrolled, they will cause organ damage over time.

Patients with type 1 diabetes do not produce enough insulin and require daily insulin injections. The condition is linked to genetic factors and develops quickly, most often in young people.

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is linked to lifestyle factors including diet and exercise and develops slowly. In this case, the patient’s body no longer uses insulin efficiently. This type of diabetes affects between 90 and 95% of people living with diabetes. A high percentage of people with type 2 diabetes develop prediabetes before the condition progresses.

Prediabetes is a serious medical condition where a patient’s blood sugar levels are higher than average but not yet high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

Prediabetes is also an opportunity, as we can halt its progress.

It can even be reversed for some individuals, saving them from years of chronic illness and spiraling healthcare costs.

How HR Team Can Help Your Organization

This year, the cost of diabetes has come on the radar of both healthcare providers and the federal government. With this raised awareness, there has never been a better time for HR teams and employers to support their workforce living more healthily.

When it comes to diabetes, one of the most staggering facts is that millions of Americans do not know they are in danger of developing the condition. It is where workplaces and employers have a tremendous opportunity to change the status quo.

Understanding The Risk

Creating this change starts by understanding how many of your employees may be at risk for developing the condition. Getting a general idea is not difficult.

The diabetes screening platform from TrueCare™ offers HR teams and employers a free risk assessment.

The assessment takes only a few minutes, but it gives you an idea of how likely your team is to develop this illness. Our analysis considers factors that influence an individual’s risk of developing diabetes, such as age and ethnicity.

Taking Action

From the basis of that analysis, we recommend a course of action. It may include setting up diabetes testing for individuals and recommendations to help your team lead a healthier lifestyle. Changes do not always need to be dramatic. Incorporating some exercise into the workday is one option. Making healthier choices available in your organization’s cafeteria or vending machines is another.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to diabetes prevention and potential prediabetes reversal, employers have a tremendous opportunity not only to save healthcare costs. They can also help their employees lead longer, healthier, and happier lives.

Diabetes screening is a simple, convenient, and complimentary step that can be the start of making a massive difference in people’s lives.

Complete a Free risk assessment for your team!

 

About TrueCare™ 

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.

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