Benefits

Diabetes Prevention: How Employers Can Save Lives and Money by Using a Simple Program

Employees who have diabetes cost companies twice as much as healthy employees.  A report from the American Diabetes Association shows that diabetes costs the country roughly $245 billion a year in lost work, wages and medical costs. The federal government has created healthy-living programs and conducted research over the year to stop the diabetes epidemic from growing. Last year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a new program, called “Prevent T2,” that took a different approach.

Unlike previous programs that targeted the actual diabetic, Prevent T2 was designed to help employers identify which employees are most at risk for diabetes.

Prevent T2 has already proven successful in early research. The program has already lowered diabetes by 58 percent for those who complete the entire program.  But today, few employers have heard of Prevent T2—and as a result, their employees are not taking advantage of this wellness program that, in many cases, is covered by insurance.

What is Prevent T2?

Prevent T2 is an updated version of the 2002 Diabetes Prevention Program with a new curriculum that directly tackles the diabetes epidemic. It also contains new literature on self-efficacy, physical activity, and diet at a sixth grade reading level.

The Prevent T2 curriculum contains new and improved topics that promote long-term weight loss and healthier lifestyles. The program educates participants on how to eat healthy, add physical activity to their routine, manage stress, stay motivated, and solve problems that can get in the way of healthy changes.

The updated version is more personalized, based on new CDC data that showed Prevent T2 participants needed greater flexibility to finish the program.  After following the recommended sequence of topics for the first 6 months, lifestyle coaches—individual case managers—can now choose between programs that last 7 to 12 months.

Free Online Tool Identifies Employees at Risk for Diabetes

Under previous programs, it was difficult for employers to identify which employees could benefit from diabetes prevention programs.

Now, there is an easy-to-use online tool that employees can take at their desk that helps them identify if they are on the road towards getting diabetes.  Employers can encourage all of their employees to take the quiz, developed by CDC, and encourage those who learn that they are prediabetic to sign up for the Prevent T2 program.

Federal privacy laws prohibit employers from singling out individuals who may be raising their group’s health care costs; however employers can obtain aggregated information showing how many of those high-cost employees they have and the nature of their health conditions.

Employers can lower their healthcare costs by educating their employees on this test. CDC research shows that 86 million American adults—more than 1 out of 3—have prediabetes. Even more disturbing, 90 percent of those who are prediabetic don’t know it.

The ROI behind Wellness Programs

A study in the American Journal of Health Promotion shows employers do benefit financially by helping their employees become more aware of their health, specifically when it comes to diabetes.

The average cost per year to treat one person with diabetes is estimated at $13,700, according to the CDC. In comparison, the CDC estimates the average annual cost for enrollment in Prevent T2 is roughly $500 per participant.

The same study concluded the mean weighted ROI in workplace health promotion programs demonstrated a positive return—138 percent to be exact.

Bringing Fitness Programs to the Workplace 

One of biggest barriers reported by employees to completing programs like Prevent T2 is a lack of time or opportunity.

I’m thrilled to report that Fitspot is bringing fitness programs, like Prevent T2, to the actual workspace.  We are working with companies like Tinder and Stamps.com to motivate employees to get healthier at their place of employment. Employees no longer have an excuse to not participate since the program comes to them!

Sammy CourtrightSammy Courtright is the co-founder of Fitspot Wellness Program. She has a BA in fine arts from the University of Miami and is a nationally certified Pilates instructor.
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