UnitedHealth Group Emphasizes Awareness And Action Against Diabetes And Prediabetes During National Diabetes Awareness Month

  • Company is first to introduce diabetes-focused health plan and innovative community-based partnerships to address growing epidemic

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is urging Americans to help turn the tide against the growing diabetes epidemic that is taking a significant toll on both the health and financial resources of individuals, employers and the overall U.S. health care system.

“Type 2 diabetes is largely a preventable disease, and many people do not realize it is often linked to obesity or even being slightly overweight,” said Dr. Deneen Vojta, M.D., senior vice president at UnitedHealth Group and co-creator of the company’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance. “We are focused on equipping people with specific strategies presented in a convenient setting, which can help them control their diabetes or even prevent it altogether.”

According to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as one in three American adults could have diabetes by 2050 if the epidemic continues at its current pace. As of 2007, nearly 24 million people in the U.S. had diabetes, 24 percent of whom were undiagnosed. Another 57 million people are considered prediabetic, but nearly 85 percent of this at-risk group is unaware of their condition. The epidemic is rapidly straining health care and financial resources, with one out of every five health care dollars today being spent to care for someone with diagnosed diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

The good news is that there is indisputable evidence that early and aggressive intervention can reverse the disease’s course in people with prediabetes and reduce its devastating impact on people already diagnosed. Research has shown that with lifestyle changes and a 5-percent weight reduction, a person with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by 58 percent.

UnitedHealth Group and its family of businesses have introduced innovative community-based partnerships, wellness programs and health plan designs that encourage and empower people to take preventive steps and lead healthier lives to help battle this epidemic.

To learn more about some of the simple lifestyle changes that people with prediabetes and diabetes can make, Dr. Vojta will participate in a live 60-minute webinar Nov. 9 at 1 p.m. ET, hosted by Woman’s Day magazine at www.womansday.com/diabetes. Listeners can submit questions in advance to diabetes@hfmus.com.

UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual also is hosting a webinar, “Eating to Prevent and Control Diabetes,” Nov. 16 at 12:30 p.m. ET at www.uhc.com/source4women. For more information and to register go to http://www.uhc.com/source4women/online_seminars_events.htm.

Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance Takes Action in Communities
Earlier this year UnitedHealth Group introduced the Diabetes Prevention & Control Alliance (DPCA) in partnership with the Y and Walgreens. The DPCA includes two innovative programs. The Diabetes Prevention Program, in partnership with the CDC and the Y, is designed to help people at risk for type 2 diabetes prevent the disease through healthy eating, increased activity and other lifestyle changes. The Diabetes Control Program, in partnership with Walgreens, provides education and support from trained pharmacists and nurse practitioners to help people with diabetes better control their condition and reduce the risk of developing diabetic complications, such as nerve, kidney and eye disease.

UnitedHealthcare covers these programs at no out-of-pocket charge to participants enrolled in employer-provided benefit plans, marking the first time that a health plan is paying for evidence-based diabetes prevention and control programs. Since its launch, the Alliance has welcomed new partners including Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care, and Home Healthcare Laboratory of America (HHLA), a leader in home testing for diabetes patients and a subsidiary of Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp).

The DPCA programs are currently available in Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton Ohio; Indianapolis; Phoenix; and Minneapolis-St. Paul. The Diabetes Control Program also is available in Albuquerque, N.M., and Oklahoma City. The programs will roll out nationally over the next two years, including in the greater New York City area, Tucson, Ariz., Atlanta, the greater Dallas metropolitan area, Houston and Washington, D.C., during the first half of 2011. More information can be found at www.unitedhealthgroup.com/diabetes.

Diabetes Health Plan Helps Employers Support Their Workers
UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual also offers employers a first-of-its-kind health plan designed specifically to help the rapidly growing numbers of people with diabetes and prediabetes manage their conditions more effectively, while controlling the escalating costs to companies to insure them. Health care costs for an individual with diabetes average more than $11,700 a year, according to UnitedHealthcare data.

Going a step beyond traditional wellness programs, the Diabetes Health Plan (DHP) offers financial rewards for following medically proven preventive steps to help manage diabetes, such as having regular blood sugar checks, routine exams and preventive screenings. The Diabetes Health Plan not only helps people live healthier lives, it can save individuals up to $500 a year through some free diabetes supplies, diabetes-related prescription drugs and lower co-pays, and it can help lower an employer’s total health care costs.

Solutions to Support People with Diabetes and Prediabetes

UnitedHealth Group offers a wide variety of other solutions to support people with diabetes and prediabetes through UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, UnitedHealthcare Community & State, and OptumHealth. Services include programs to assess diabetes risk, free screenings and member education and outreach, as well as disease management and care coordination programs to help health plan participants better control their condition and reduce costs.

For tips on diabetes prevention, click here.

About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making health care work better. With headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through six operating businesses: UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, UnitedHealthcare Community & State, OptumHealth, Ingenix and Prescription Solutions. Through its family of businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves more than 75 million people worldwide. Visit www.unitedhealthgroup.com for more information.