Highmark says dental care saves diabetics thousands in drug costs
Diabetics who receive regular dental care and treatment for gum disease spent an average of $1,477 less per year on prescription drugs than diabetics who don't see dentists, an insurance industry study found.
Highmark Inc. subsidiary United Concordia Dental on Wednesday released results of the study, which examined claims records of 1.7 million patients with United Concordia dental insurance and Highmark medical insurance.
It followed results released in March that showed diabetics who received regular dental treatments spent $1,814 less each year on hospitalizations and doctor visits.
United Concordia's dental director, Jim Bramson, said the oral health study — the largest of its kind — delivers a strong message.
“Annual health care savings of more than $3,200 are possible when you combine the medical and pharmacy savings for individuals with diabetes (who) are treated for gum disease,” Bramson said.
In the latest results, patients treated at least seven times for gum disease showed the average reduction in pharmacy costs. The March results showed that diabetics who received treatment for gum disease had 33 percent fewer hospitalizations and 13 percent fewer doctor visits than those who didn't seek dental treatment.
In response to its findings, United Concordia this fall introduced a benefit called UCWellness in 26 states, including Pennsylvania, Bramson said. It can be added to dental plans for the 2013 benefit year to cover 100 percent of costs for added treatments such as cleaning and surgery, he said.
United Concordia estimated a company with 2,000 employees is likely to have 200 to 250 people with diabetes. If just six of those workers made use of benefits, the projected medical savings would cover the employer's cost of UCWellness, Bramson said.
Dr. Anthony J. Cannon, a Hamilton, N.J., endocrinologist and regional board president for the American Diabetes Association who reviewed the results for United Concordia, said the study's findings “are consistent with an emerging body of evidence associating gingivitis, type 2 diabetes and vascular disease.”
Highmark and United Concordia plan to expand the study to try to determine whether improved oral health can reduce costs associated with preterm births, heart disease and stroke.
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or email@example.com.
Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh police doubling up on duty after potential threats
- Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
- Steelers offense learning to slam door
- Steelers clinch trip to postseason with big victory over Chiefs
- Steelers defensive game changer: Fourth-down stop thwarts Chiefs
- Connellsville Polar Bear Club ready for New Year’s
- Pittsburgh mayor Peduto goes ‘Undercover’ for CBS reality show
- Old-school booksellers learn to survive, thrive in digital age
- Greater Connellsville chamber seeks nominations
- Allegheny County district attorney prosecutors move on to state office
- Norwin band director is finding lots of success in return to his alma mater