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Employees With Diabetes & Obesity Are At Higher Risk for Severe Illness

It is clear that your employees with diabetes and obesity are at higher risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19. Almost 50% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 have obesity and almost 30% have diabetes. In addition, those with obesity and diabetes are at higher risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease which are also top underlying conditions associated with hospitalization.    

You can support your employees and improve the effectiveness of your health benefits by taking the following actions:

Share the CDC recommendations for actions those at risk can take to help lessen the severity of illness with your employees: See the full-list here. Highlights include: reduce trips to pharmacy by keeping an extra supply of medications at home; be sure influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations are up to date; for those with diabetes, monitor your blood sugar regularly, take your temperature daily, and monitor weight since weight loss may be a sign of high blood sugar; those with severe obesity (BMI 40+) should continue to take medication for underlying conditions (such as hypertension) as prescribed.

Remind your employees of their benefits such as personal health coaching, diabetes disease management programs, advocacy and navigation support, telehealth, and nurse advice lines. Both the CDC and American Diabetes Association stress that effectively managing diabetes reduces the likelihood of severe illness.

Consider first dollar coverage for diabetes (and other chronic conditions) medications, tests, and screenings now IRS-approved for high deductible health plans. Removing the financial barriers to needed care, which can be steep in a high deductible health plan, can help your employees better manage their diabetes. See the IRS expanded list here.

Participate in MBGH's 2020 focus on obesity and diabetes! MBGH employer members and members of our Health Benefits Peer Roundtable and Health & WellBeing Peer Roundtable are eligible to participate. Special projects include working with NCQA on using data to drive strategies; implementing a comprehensive obesity benefit; identifying and filling gaps in benefits and wellbeing programs for those with diabetes; and more. Contact Cristie at ctravis@memphsibusinessgroup.org for more information.

Posted by Cristie Travis at 8:19 AM

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