Diabetes going up: Cases, complications and cost.

Diabetes is a costly disease. It racked up an estimated $245 billion in 2012 in direct health care costs and lost productivity.2 Diabetes can damage blood vessels, the eyes and kidneys. It can result in poor wound healing and devastating soft tissue infections. Complications from diabetes include heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, hypoglycemia, and more. Nearly 71,000 people die in the United States annually due to complications associated with diabetes.4

Deflate the disease

Your employees can treat and manage pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes through healthy eating, regular physical activity, and medicines that lower blood glucose levels. Health plans and employers use a range of care management and wellness programs to support and encourage members in these activities.

People can also lower risk by working to reduce high blood pressure, high lipid levels and tobacco use. A variety of medicines can help achieve these goals, but only half the people in the United States take their drugs as prescribed.  

Stick with Adherence

Blue Cross and Prime use a variety of programs to support members with adherence. Depending on the number of medicines the member takes and the risk profile, these programs may include:

  • Gaps in care claims analysis
  • Member notification
  • Prescriber notification
  • Refill reminder calls and more

Pressure on prices

People with diabetes also face rapidly rising drug prices. For example, the prices for the most commonly used insulins rose more than 20 percent.5  But in general, insulin products are considered clinically equivalent in terms of efficacy, safety and uniqueness.6

To help reduce costs, Prime negotiated discounts on the preferred-insulin products Novolog® and Novolin®. In exchange for better prices, manufacturers received preferred placement on Prime’s formulary.

In the first month after implementation, one client saw a reversal in the rate of insulin cost growth, fueling a negative inflation rate of 8.2 percent.5

November is American Diabetes Month, but working to improve the lives of people with diabetes is a year-round effort. When employers, physicians and health care organizations work together, we can help prevent diabetes and improve the lives of people affected by the disease.


1.Menke, A., Casagrande, S., Geiss, L, Cowie, C., Prevalence of and Trends in Diabetes Among Adults in the United States, 1988-2012,. JAMA. 2015;314(10):1021-1029. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.10029. Accessed at: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2434682#Conclusions

2. American Diabetes Association. Economic costs of diabetes in the US in 2012. Diabetes Care. 2013;36(4):1033-1046. Accessed at: http://professional.diabetes.org/News_Display.aspx?TYP=9&CID=91943&loc=ContentPage-

3. Japsen, B.  It Costs $10K More To Treat People With Diabetes, Insurers Say,” May 8, 2015. Forbes.com LLC™  Accessed at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2015/05/08/it-costs-10k-more-to-treat-people-with-diabetes-insurers-say/

4. Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. (2009). 2009 almanac of chronic diseases. Retrieved from http://www.fightchronicdisease.org/sites/fightchronicdisease.org/files/docs/ 2009AlmanacofChronicDisease_updated81009.pdf>.

5. Prime Therapeutics. 2014 Prescription drug cost report. 

6. Zeolla, M. M. Are Novolog and Humalog Interchangeable? Medscape Multispecialty. April 20, 2007. Accessed at: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/554340.

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