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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Diabetes Wellness and Incentive Program

The United Health Care Group has launched a new wellness coaching and incentive program for diabetics.

Nearly 24 million people in the U.S. had diabetes in 2007, according to the American Diabetes Association. But two-thirds of them don't follow their doctor's advice on managing their disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The United Health Care (UHC) program hopes to lower the cost and incidence of diabetes. The program addresses the two primary reasons diabetics don't follow proper protocol. The first is the high cost of equipment and prescription and doctor-visit co-pays. The second is a fundamental lack of understanding of their disease, its causes and treatments.

Diabetics and pre-diabetics will be assigned a wellness coach and given instructions on following methods to control their disease, including blood checks, exams and screenings. United Health Care will pick up the cost of some supplies and prescriptions and will lower doctor co-pays--at a savings for patients of up to $500 a year.

Unlike traditional disease-management programs, the new UHC program targets a larger segment of the disease population, including pre-diabetics. The program hopes to prevent diabetes in pre-diabetics and slow its progression in diabetics.

“There is a massive, untapped opportunity for millions of American who have pre-diabetes diagnoses to stop, and perhaps even reverse, the progress of the disease before it’s too late,” said Dr. Sam Ho, M.D., UHC chief medical officer. “By encouraging them to take the right preventive steps, with clear incentives including lower out-of-pocket costs, we can help people improve the quality of their lives.”
What Does This Mean for Wellness Professionals?
  • Consider designing personalized, specific self-management steps as part of any wellness program, to keep patients from moving into higher-cost categories of treatment.
  • Consider health coaching services to help diabetic patients manage their conditions.
  • Keep working at basic diet and exercise programs--these programs can help reduce the risk for lots of diseases, including diabetes.

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