The patients scaring private health insurers

Photograph of various diabetic tools and medicine.

An increase in the number of patients being admitted to hospital due to Type 2 diabetes over the last three years has private health insurers concerned.

Medibank chief medical officer Linda Swan told the Sydney Morning Herald that the figures clearly highlight that the health fund needs to be doing more to stop the costs of Type 2 diabetes from getting out of control.

“We’ve been hearing about the epidemic of diabetes for years, but it’s not until you see the stark reality that you see this is growing at an extraordinary rate and clearly we’re not doing enough,” Dr Swan says.

She says most Type 2 diabetes patients presenting in hospitals were avoidable, but the dilemma was in how to prevent them in the most efficient way.

“We’re seeing in Australia an ageing population and an increasing number of people with chronic disease and obviously that’s driving the cost of health care, but what we’re hearing from out members is they don’t want to pay more for health care,” Dr Swan says.

Ad. Article continues below.

According to Diabetes Australia CEO Greg Johnson, the disease has the potential to completely overwhelm the success of Australia’s national health system. He says more than 4,400 amputations are being performed in hospitals each year and 10,000 admissions due to ulcers and foot sores. Many of these, he says, are preventable.

“Diabetes is a very significant driver of hospitalisations when you look at all of the complications,” Johnson says.

He says that people with diabetes have the potential to cost health funds a lot of money and that programs that keep people healthy are what’s needed.

Already a number of private health insurers fund prevention and management of chronic conditions and provide schemes to reward healthy lifestyle, such as subsidised gym memberships.

Do you suffer from diabetes (or know someone who does)? How has your/their life been affected by the condition?