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The High Cost of Diabetes: A Guide for Employers

Diabetes is a rising healthcare concern for those in the United States, with nearly 30 million people affected – that’s 9.5% of the population. With those high numbers, it’s likely you’ve encountered the effects of this public health problem in your workplace.

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One of the biggest impacts you might have felt are the associated costs, which affect individuals and employers alike. For individuals with diabetes, they pay an average of $8,000 a year for their healthcare, more than twice what those without diabetes pay. As for employers, studies have shown that costs associated with diabetes come in the form of missed work and lower productivity.

Approaching global epidemic status, it might seem that employers can’t do much to combat the rising problem and associated costs. But there are steps you can take. Here’s our list of how you as an employer can help fight the rising costs of diabetes:

Raise Awareness Through Diabetes Screenings

It’s estimated that approximately 23 million people with diabetes are unaware they have it. It might seem like an undiagnosed illness would cost less, but the damage done to the body without treatment results in much higher costs in the long run. But you can help those who are suffering from diabetes, without even knowing, it, by offering workplace diabetes screenings.

Pre-diabetes can be managed effectively with diet and exercise, but as the disease progresses and more damage is done to the body, it becomes more difficult and costly to manage. By offering workplace screenings, you give employees the chance to see their numbers in real time, discover if they have diabetes, and learn how far it has progressed.

Encourage a Healthy Workplace

There are many activities and programs you can host that can both help those afflicted by diabetes manage their condition and go a long way to preventing the onset in others. Walking clubs, incentivized weight loss challenges, smoking cessation programs, and more can be used to help create a healthier workplace.

The ways in which you can create a healthier workplace are only as endless as your imagination. From offering healthier snack choices to hosting on-site cooking classes, to taking small steps like posting a sign by the elevator to take the stairs, or even going big and starting an employee vegetable garden – you really can do a lot to encourage healthy habits.

Incentivize Diabetes Management

Managing diabetes requires a lot of lifestyle and diet changes. It might seem simple from the outside to just eat healthier and exercise more, but given the mental and physical strain that diabetes puts on a person, it’s not so easy. A little encouragement from an employer can go a long way in helping motivate proper disease management.

Rewarding employees with free gym memberships, cash rewards, and healthy meal gift certificates for reaching milestones for weight loss, A1C drops, and more, are some ideas you can use. When you incentivize a healthy lifestyle, you take a little bit of the pressure off the employee. It lets them know that you’re on their side, and healthy competition and rewards are a great motivator for change.

Use a PBM to Manage Medication Costs

One of the biggest costs for individuals with diabetes is insulin, whose prices have skyrocketed in recent years. While the FDA and congress are attempting to regulate these costs, the prices have nearly doubled in three years. There are stories of people skipping or lowering their insulin doses to try and manage the costs – a dangerous, and sometimes fatal choice.

Rather than relying on a corporate giant who answers to Wall street and stockholders, trusting an employee-owned PBM can help ensure that your employees are always getting the most reasonable costs for medication, including insulin. With ProAct, you don’t have to worry about lengthy negotiations to approve benefits or potential mergers that disrupt service. We offer high-touch service and can quickly respond to your changing needs and the changing healthcare environment. For more information about how ProAct can help you lower the cost of diabetes in your workplace, contact us today.

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