Who's Covering my Diabetes Expenses?

Diabetes patients may need additional health insurance coverage

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) If you're stuck without health insurance coverage, simply getting stitches at the hospital can be costly. If you have a chronic disease like diabetes, having no health insurance can make treatment nearly impossible to afford.

A majority of adults with diabetes had some form of health insurance coverage, according to recent findings.

Still, about two million diabetes patients under the age of 65 had no health insurance coverage.

"Get health insurance to help cover your health needs."

Sarah Stark Casagrande, PhD, of Social & Scientific Systems Inc., and Catherine C. Cowie, PhD, of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, set out to compare health insurance coverage and the type of coverage for people with and without diabetes.

They found that 90 percent of diabetic adults involved in the study had some form of health insurance.

Almost all adults 65 years of age or older with diabetes had coverage, compared to 85 percent of patients between 18 and 64 years.

Of those without diabetes, 81 percent had some type of health insurance coverage.

High health insurance costs were the main reason that those between 18 and 64 years of age had no coverage.

Medicare coverage was more common among diabetes patients between 18 and 64 years than among those without diabetes (14 percent versus 3 percent, respectively).

It was more common for diabetes patients between 18 and 64 to have two coverage sources, compared to people without diabetes. More specifically, 13 percent of 18- to 64-year-olds with diabetes had two health insurance sources, compared to 5 percent of those without diabetes.

The most common private health insurance plan for those with or without diabetes was a preferred provider organization, or PPO - an organization of doctors, hospitals, and healthcare providers who have an agreement with an insurer to give health care to clients at a lower cost.

The second most common plan was a health maintenance organization (HMO) or independent practice association (IPA). These plans involve organizations that make contracts with independent doctors and physicians.

While most diabetes patients have some type of health insurance coverage, many patients remain uninsured. According to the authors, these uninsured patients have a large impact on public health and healthcare costs.

"Healthcare reform should work toward ensuring that people with diabetes have coverage for routine care," the authors concluded.

The study - which involved 2,704 adults with diabetes and 25,008 adults without diabetes - was published July 11 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

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Review Date: 
July 16, 2012
Last Updated:
January 17, 2013