Report Finds No Overwhelming Diabetes Treatment Advances

February 18, 2010 ( – A new study indicates that health plans are moving forward on diabetes quality efforts, but without “major transformations in approaches or outcomes.”

The report by the National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH) is based on health plan survey data and was prepared with support from pharmaceutical company sanofi-aventis, according to a news release.

The report indicated that virtually all health plans offer a personal health assessment (PHA) to identify people with or at risk for diabetes, and some proactively search for members with diabetes using claims and other data sources.

Overall diabetes quality indicators continue to improve slowly, the report said. Health plans report that 80% of diabetics have at least an annual hemoglobin A1C test, an important indicator, and an annual cholesterol screening. Still, one-third of patients have uncontrolled blood sugar.

Also, the report indicated that less than 20% of health plans offer a lower co-pay, deductible, or premium to members who choose a high quality primary care doctor, and less than half have any financial rewards to patients for selecting higher quality specialty physicians.

Value-based benefit design continues to gain traction to encourage members to use essential medications and treatments for chronic disease. In 2008, 48% of plans had capability to waive copays for first time prescriptions and equipment for diabetes.

The report is available here