Issue: Employees with diabetes suffer moreand higher health costs. The diabetic population has doubled in 20 years.
Benefit: Effective diabetesprograms can help control health care costs and maintain productivity.
Action: Host screening for employees, then provide education using the advice and resources below.
The numbers are daunting: Diabetes affects about one in 14 Americans, yet nearly one-third of people with the disease don't know it. It's the fifth leading cause of death in America. And experts predict the rate of diabetes will climb higher, especially among Hispanics and African-Americans.
For employers, diabetes translates into increased absenteeism and higher health costs because it often leads to heart disease, amputations and other complications. It affects diabetes-free employees who are caretakers for people with the disease.
Advice: Explore a diabetes management program to help employees and trim your costs. Sixty-two percent of larger employers have some kind of diabetes management plan, according to Mercer HR consulting.
"The general consensus is that (diabetes programs) work in the long run," says Roger Reed, executive VP of Gordian Health Solutions, a Nashville-based health management service provider.
Here's what your program should do:
Screen employees for diabetes. Contact your insurance provider to see if it provides or pays for medical professionals to test employees and teach them how to monitor the disease and take the medication.
Educate employees about the disease through newsletters, e-mails and bulletin board postings. Hold diabetes education classes for diabetics and their caretakers. Again, check with your insurer or the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org).
Provide supplies. For example, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas provides free glucometers, testing supplies and self-management tracking forms for employees who participate in a one-year program.
Online resources: For more advice and resources, go to www.diabetesatwork.org, www.diabetes.org and www.dfwbgh.org/setforsuccess.htm. Take an interactive Diabetes Risk Test at www.diabetes.org/risk-test.jsp.