Assessment Tool

HOW MUCH IS DIABETES COSTING YOUR COMPANY?

Many factors can affect the occurrence of diabetes and other chronic conditions in employees. These factors include: age, ethnicity, family history and obesity. Medical costs associated with diabetes vary, depending on factors such as the level of overall glucose control and the coexistence of other medical conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, eye disease or kidney disease.

With better control of diabetes, companies may reduce the later costs of the complications of diabetes and may be able to reinvest these "cost avoidance dollars" in other areas.

Several tools, such as cost calculators, are available from some of the National Diabetes Education Program’s (NDEP) partner organizations. One is described below. Another cost calculator is available on the Web site (www.nbch.org) of the National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH), another NDEP partner organization. While NDEP does not officially endorse these or any other non-NDEP produced tools, we believe that it is important to share such tools as they become available. Each tool has its own unique attributes and development history.

Before using any tool, please consider the following:

  • Is the source of the information public domain or proprietary?
  • Have the results been published in a peer-reviewed journal?
  • Who has sponsored the research?
  • Is the methodology available?

The Blueprint for Health blueprint.acoem.org

The Blueprint for Health (BFH) is a free, web-based tool for making value-based decisions on health and productivity management. The BFH is hosted by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), one of the partner organizations of the NDEP. ACOEM has partnered with NDEP for many years and has a representative on the NDEP Business Health Strategy work group. The BFH is valuable to all employers, regardless of expertise in data analysis and formal tracking of absence or productivity.

The BFH uses data, methods and metrics derived from a large dataset of U.S. employers and covers several medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension, insomnia, obesity, cholesterolemia and several co-morbidities.

The data used to build the Blueprint for Health estimation models came from Human Capital Management Services' Research Reference Database (HCMS RRDb). The RRDb contains de-identified person-centric demographic, payroll, enrollment, medical, pharmacy, wellness, absence, disability, workers' compensation and self-reported work impairment data from multiple large employers across the United States. Data are received electronically from the employers' human resources and payroll systems and from their insurance claims administrators. Currently, the RRDb contains data from over 600,000 employees, as well as a similar number of insured dependents. Data in the RRDb are from January 1, 2001 to June 30, 2007. The BFH estimates the full implications of cost, including medical expenses, absences and work impairment (presenteeism).

Use the BFH to:

  • Project total cost of healthcare, list productivity and absence.
  • Learn the impact of variables as age, gender, geographic location and benefit design on overall healthcare costs
  • Understand the migration of employees to higher or lower cost levels over time.
  • Help initiate a health and productivity management program.

Some considerations when using the BFH (as mentioned in the FAQs on the Web site) include:

  • Users should focus on the distribution of outcomes across categories (e.g., the percent who are very expensive, or absent more than 30 days), instead of focusing only on the specific dollar amounts.
  • The tool tracks cost migration over time to help employers understand the "moving target" phenomenon.
  • Some limitations of the tool: 1) many employers no longer measure sick time separately, so these numbers are hard to generalize, and 2) the presenteeism numbers are based on a particular tool which may or may not generalize to settings.
  • The tool is intended to help employers understand "ballpark" costs, and not to compare provider performance or serve other such medical purposes.

You may log on to blueprint.acoem.org (registration required). It may be helpful to minimize the www.diabetesatwork.org Web site so that you can easily return to the site and find tools to use after you assess the scope and impact of diabetes in your workplace.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Diabetes Education Program is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the support of more than 200 partner organizations.