Diabetes benefit program helps save money, improve health: Study

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release)Lowering the price of diabetes treatment is helping control overall medical costs, according to a four-year review of Kentucky Employees Health Plan (KEHP) data.

The latest data reveals that as members continue adherence to their diabetes treatment, the average medical trend for members with diabetes and members without diabetes are the same. In addition, ER visits and inpatient admissions were lower for diabetes patients than patients without diabetes during this same four-year period.

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KEHP provides health insurance to almost 300,000 public employees, retirees and their families. That’s 6.6% of the state’s population

Diabetes is one of the mostly costly medical conditions for the state’s largest self-insured health plan, costing more than $3 million a year.

The KEHP implemented several innovative programs in the last five years focused on reducing costs associated with diabetes as the rise in diabetes grew across the commonwealth.

In 2016, KEHP began the Diabetes Value Benefit (DVB), which allows members with a diabetes diagnosis to receive maintenance prescriptions and supplies, such as diabetic strips, free or at a reduced copay or coinsurance, with no deductible.

“The first-year results of the Diabetes Value Benefit were overwhelmingly positive,” said Jenny Goins, Commissioner of the Department of Employee Insurance. “The news continues to be positive, with an average four-year medical trend of 4.2% for both diabetes and non-diabetes groups. And the program continues to make an impact on the lives of our members by helping them overcome cost barriers to managing their diabetes.”

In 2015, only 62% of KEHP members diagnosed with diabetes stuck to their diabetes medications and by 2019 that number had grown to 70%.

“The data indicates that as members manage their diabetes, they are also able to reduce their use of other medications,” explained Goins. “As members proactively manage their diabetes, they also improve their overall health and reduce their health care costs.”

For members with diabetes the number of diabetic prescriptions increased an average of 1.7% in four years and the number of non-diabetic scripts decreased an average of 0.2% in the last four years.

According to the 2019 Kentucky Diabetes Report, Kentucky had the fourth-highest mortality rate due to diabetes in the nation as of 2016 and a 12.9% prevalence of diabetes among Kentucky adults.

“We work to make a difference in the lives of public employees, retirees, and their families covered by the Kentucky Employees Health Plan,” said Personnel Cabinet Secretary Gerina Whethers. “The health plan provides a variety of programs that support the physical, mental, social and financial well-being of our members through programs like the Diabetes Value Benefit, LiveHealth Online, Future Moms, Rethink and others. Not only are we seeing a significant cost savings, but even more importantly, were making a difference in the health of the members we serve.”

The KEHP works to reduce the number of members with Type 2 Diabetes through 100% coverage of the national Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). Currently, more than 7,000 members are enrolled in DPP across the State. KEHP also provides coverage for the Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) program.

Additional information for KEHP members can be found at kehp.ky.gov. Kentuckians who are not covered by the KEHP can get information about diabetes resources, by visiting the Kentucky Diabetes Resources Directory.

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