The impact of diabetes continues to grow.  It’s increasing most rapidly in the 18 – 34 age group where obesity rates are also going up. 

In Nebraska we’re seeing an increase too. According to our research in connection with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association’s Health of America study on diabetes.  Slightly more than 4.5 percent of our 700,000 members had diabetes in 2016.  The age group with the biggest increase (11.5 percent) from 2015 to 2016 were 21 to 29 years olds.

“This is a disturbing trend, Dr. Debra Esser, chief medical officer said. “The longer a patient has diabetes and elevated blood sugars, the more likely it is that you will have a complication of diabetes such as eye problems that can lead to blindness, kidney disease that can lead to dialysis and transplant and poor circulation and infection that can lead to limb amputation.”

Diabetes ranks #4 among our members’ claims behind hypertension, pregnancy and chronic renal failure. The cost to treat a diabetic patient is slightly higher than the national average – $139 in Nebraska compared to $137 nationwide.

“BCBS of Nebraska covers diabetic education programs, including programs for our members with pre-diabetes, so we can try to stop the progression to diabetes,” Esser said. “We offer a wide range of options for education whether face to face at your doctor’s office, telephonic or with text support through case management.”

It is so important to do all we can to prevent diabetes and turn this trend around.