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Diabetes Dateline
Winter 2011

Screening Adults for Diabetes and Prediabetes May Save Money

Photo of a health care provider drawing blood from a patient’s arm with a needle and collection tube, which is partly filled with blood. Only part of the patient’s arm and the gloved hands of the health care worker are visible. Empty collection tubes for blood are in the background.Results from a recent study indicate that screening all adults for diabetes or prediabetes, and treating those found to have diabetes or prediabetes for 3 years, would be cost neutral or provide net cost savings. Screening only those with known risk factors for type 2 diabetes would be less costly, and hence yield even more savings, but would miss some cases of disease until it has progressed to a more serious stage. The study results were published in the July 2010 issue of Diabetes Care.

Screening for diabetes and prediabetes allows the use of therapies that can help prevent or delay the disease and its complications. But determining whether screening can save money is complex. For example, the tests and treatments themselves cost money, and a person treated to prevent type 2 diabetes might not have developed the disease even without intervention. On the other hand, people with prediabetes who receive the lifestyle intervention tested in the landmark Diabetes Prevention Program clinical trial have lower health care costs overall.

The researchers studied a number of screening methods, taking into account cost, patient burden, and accuracy of results. They found a variety of methods are cost effective. These results suggest that health care providers and payers should encourage diabetes and prediabetes testing for adults, particularly those with risk factors for diabetes, such as those who are older than 45, are overweight, or have a family history of the disease.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has easy-to-read booklets and fact sheets about diabetes, including Am I at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes? Taking Steps to Lower Your Risk of Getting Diabetes. Visit www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/riskfortype2 to read this booklet.

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NIH Publication No. 11–4562
January 2011

Page last updated: December 5, 2011


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