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The diabetes balancing act

Help your employees prevent or manage this condition.

November is National Diabetes Month — so let’s talk about how this disease is affecting both your employees and business in more ways than one.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) External Site, 30 million people in the United States currently have one of the three types of diabetes and 1 in 4 don't even know they have the disease. With these numbers, it's inevitable that a portion of your employees have either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes.

The Three Types of Diabetes

Type 1: In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce any insulin. Normally the body breaks down the carbohydrates you eat into blood sugar, which it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get sugar from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. In the absence of insulin, blood sugars can become very high, resulting in vomiting, dehydration and acidotic blood. The treatment for this type of diabetes is insulin.

Type 2: In type 2 diabetes, the body makes insulin but is unable to use it properly due to insulin resistance in the cells. Type 2 is typically treated through lifestyle changes, medications and sometimes insulin as the disease progresses.

Gestational: Gestational diabetes starts when the body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, sugar cannot leave the blood and be used by cells as a source of energy. If not properly treated Gestational diabetes can cause complications in both the mother and the infant.

Source: American Diabetes Association (ADA)

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetics experience medical costs twice as high as those living without the disease. And, when your employees are facing high costs — so are you. Here's how:

The Cost of Diabetes in the Workplace

$3.3 billion increase in absenteeism

$26.9 billion in reduced workplace productivity

$37.5 billion in inability to work as a result of the disease (e.g. disability)

$19.9 billion in lost productivity due to early mortality

Source: American Diabetes Association (ADA)

Luckily, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is here to help provide the resources you need to improve employee health while managing health care costs — for both your business and employees.

  1. Consider Condition Support. Employees who don’t receive adequate support for unmanaged chronic conditions increase health care utilization and cost, which impacts your bottom line. With the Condition Support program, Wellmark uses a team of specially-trained health care professionals to assist with your employees unique needs. The program focuses on providing employees with holistic, robust education and support that empowers them to take charge of their condition.
  2. Adopt a culture of health. If diabetes is becoming a top claim expense for your organization, it may be time to welcome employer consulting and well-being services. These services are able to provide insight about your employees and provide the expertise to create engaging well-being solutions that meet your organization's unique needs.
  3. Contribute to community health. Health and well-being is far more than what we do to change our workplaces. That's why, we're working in the community through Wellmark's Healthy HometownSM initiative opens in new window, to improve the health and well-being of Iowa and South Dakota communities is so important. We’re on a mission to provide the opportunity for citizens to lead healthier lives by making the healthy choice, the easy choice through healthy vending, community gardens and walking and biking trails.

For more inspiring ideas on how you can contribute to community health, visit the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative External Site and Good and Healthy South Dakota External Site.

In light of National Diabetes Awareness Month, encourage your employees to schedule their age-appropriate preventive exams today. They can easily find an in-network doctor with the Find a Provider tool External Site, or by logging in to myWellmark.Opens in a new window

Questions about resources or how Wellmark can help your organization prevent or manage diabetes? Contact your authorized Wellmark representative today.

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