Toll for Diabetes Keeps Rising for Employers

Diabetes costs employers about $20 billion a year thanks to about 57 million unplanned sick days for workers, according to a report by Gallop and Sharecare, a health and wellness engagement company. The prevalence of diabetes in the adult population grew, from 10.6% in 2008 to 11.6% in 2016. It was at 11.5% for the first nine months of 2017, the report states. 

“If the diabetes rate had remained at its 2008 level, about 2.3 million fewer U.S. adults would have the disease today, and health care costs due to diabetes would be an estimated $19.2 billion less than current costs,” the report states.

The prevalence of diabetes for full-time employees is 6.3%, representing 5.5 work days missed per year per person, and costing employers $16 billion. The prevalence of diabetes for part-time employees is 9.1%, representing 4.3 missed work days per year per person, and costing employers $4.4 billion.

The data were gathered from a subset of 354,473 telephone interviews with adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia conducted from January 2, 2015 to December 30, 2016. In 2015, 177,281 interviews were conducted. In 2016, 177,192 were conducted.

The link between lifestyle and type 2 diabetes has been long noted: 90% of Americans with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. In addition, there’s a 26% decrease in the risk of diabetes among people who get 2.5 hours of exercise a week.

Type 2 diabetes is up almost 3 percentage points from 2008 to 2016. It held steady at 28.2% for the first nine months of 2017.

Then there are the comorbidities to consider: People with diabetes have much higher rates of other chronic diseases and/or conditions, such as heart attack, depression, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

The report offers several approaches to better diabetes management, one of which involves using nurse practitioners.

“Depending on state and hospital guidelines, most NPs can drive top-line revenue by receiving reimbursement for clinical services,” the report states. “NPs are also able to write orders, adjust medications, and coordinate with other specialists for diabetes patients with multiple chronic conditions.”

Source: Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index