Medicare Monday: Progress in fight against diabetes is one more thing to be thankful for this year

Nicole Longo
Nicole Longo November 21, 2016


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30 million. 1.4 million. 11 million. 86 million. These numbers on their own may mean nothing, but in the context of diabetes, they paint an entirely different picture. More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, with 1.4 million new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 11 million older adults have diabetes, while 86 million Americans have prediabetes. So what’s the bright side?

First, diabetes prevention is an important step to curb the number of people affected by the disease. Second, improved adherence to diabetes medications can make a huge difference. Take, for example, one study that estimates patients in the United States could avoid 341,000 hospitalizations and nearly 700,000 emergency room visits annually just by improving adherence to their diabetes medicines. For seniors, adherence can also mean cost savings. A study in the Journal of Managed Care Specialty Pharmacy found that for patients with diabetes a 1 percent increase in prescriptions filled for diabetes medicines was coupled with a .83 percent decrease in non-pharmacy medical spending. That’s an average net savings of $5,170 per beneficiary compared to those who were non-adherent.

What does this mean broadly for Medicare? Another study found that good adherence was linked with a decrease of $4,000 in total Medicare spending per patient over two years.

Additionally, new medicines continue to provide hope for the millions of patients and families affected by diabetes. A new report has found there are 171 new medicines in development for diabetes, including 40 for type 1 and 95 for type 2.

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And while the number of Americans with diabetes is still too high, the rate of new diabetes cases diagnosed in the United States each year is beginning to decrease. That’s a step in the right direction in the fight against the diabetes epidemic and something to be thankful for.

Happy early Thanksgiving!

Topics: Medicines in Development, Diabetes, Part D, Medicare, Medicare Monday