A health care plan that is welcoming to diabetics and also affordable has long been on our wish list. So you might say the PWDs of this country are getting a late Christmas present here with UnitedHealthcare's announcement of the first-ever health plan designed specifically for diabetics and pre-diabetics — with built-in self-care incentives that will save us money.
Under this plan, there will be NO COST for wellness exams, prescription drugs, or office visits related to your diabetes care, for an estimated savings of up to $500 year. But in return, in order to remain enrolled in the program, members "must comply with diabetes and preventive care evidence-based guidelines" provided by the ADA. Members will be required to use a tracking site that collects information about the services used, and has an automated reminder system to prompt them to get their checkups and lab tests regularly.
Might as well let them tell you about it, in their new promotional video:
So who's eligible? Not everybody, just yet. The plan will be offered to employees by mostly large companies that choose to opt in. So if you don't have a job at the moment, no go. Or if you do, but your employer's not currently contracted with UnitedHealthcare, don't hold your breath (although you could start lobbying immediately).
Still, I think this a VERY COOL idea. It's the first step towards "personalizing" healthcare by tailoring plans to specific conditions and then offering financial incentives for good self-care, as the video states.
Did you catch that part about how we diabetics tend to cost employers an average of 13 times more for health coverage than "healthy employees" do, up to $22,000 per year? What a great idea to help offset those costs, thereby hopefully offsetting employers' reluctance to hire someone with diabetes in the first place?
And I like the idea of offering incentives for people to take good care of themselves, as long as the requirements are reasonable and manageable.
Maybe I'm missing something here, but I'm pretty excited about this. Looks to me like UnitedHC might be leading the way towards a new win-win model for covering chronic conditions.