The Affordable Care Act: Significant Progress Made for Diabetics and the Fight Against the Disease

This post is part of a weekly “Did You Know” blog series that highlights important, but not well known features of the health reform law about prevention, wellness, and personal responsibility for our health. 

Blood sugar testingThe Affordable Care Act (ACA) will bring down the cost of health care by improving peoples’ health. A prime example is the ACA’s comprehensive approach to diabetes.

According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, diabetes affects around 25.8 million people today, which is 8.3 percent of our population. If left untreated, diabetes can spiral into a long list of serious complications. It is the leading cause of kidney failure, responsible for most new cases of blindness for people under 75 years old, and the number one reason for non-accident-related foot and leg amputations for adults. In 2007, diabetes claimed enough lives to rank as the seventh leading cause of death in America.

Diabetes is an expensive disease to treat. Diabetics spend, on average, 2.3 times more than their healthy counterparts do on medical care each year. The United States spends $116 billion every year in direct medical care to treat diabetes and loses $58 billion in lost productivity, disability, and premature mortality due to the chronic illness, a whopping total of $174 billion annually. If trends continue, the United States could see the incidence of diabetes go from 1 in 10 adults today to 1 in 3 adults by year 2050. And the cost for treating diabetes is predicted to increase by 100 percent as soon as 2025, reaching $514 billion. But it doesn’t have to come to that. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and is known to be triggered by obesity and lifestyle, rendering it largely preventable through healthy diet and regular exercise.

The cost of care over a lifetime for a diabetic and the risk of developing expensive complications help to explain why insurance companies have found diabetics unfavorable to insure. Yet quality health insurance is what permits sustained relationships with primary care doctors, which facilitates prevention and health maintenance. 

The ACA helps people with diabetes get the care they need at a price they can afford. For example:

Here are a few other ways the ACA is working to prevent diabetes and the serious and costly complications that go with it:

The ACA’s strategies for handling diabetes are a strong example of the cost-saving, health-improving measures available under the act across the spectrum of health conditions.

For more diabetes-related information and resources, see the American Diabetes Association online. And go online to learn about how the Affordable Care Act is working to prevent the many other costly chronic health conditions prevalent in the United States.

Interested in an in-person presentation on how health reform is rolling out in Illinois and what it means for individuals? Are you a direct service provider or advocate for vulnerable populations and interested in how the Affordable Care Act will impact the population you serve? Rachel Gielau, health policy expert at the Shriver Center, is giving free in-person presentations to Illinois audiences on how health reform is affecting individual and families in Illinois. Contact Rachel Gielau at 312-368-1154 to set up a presentation for your organization!

This blog post was coauthored by Rachel Gielau.

 

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