Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Study Finds Diabetes Growing Fastest Among Members Ages 18 through 34

Diabetes outpaces heart disease, substance abuse and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

CHICAGO – A new study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shows that diabetes impact continues to grow and is increasing most rapidly among members age 18 through 34. The 4.7 percent growth in diabetes impact for younger adults from 2013 through 2015 corresponds to this age group’s spike in obesity rates, a key contributor to the onset of diabetes.

Diabetes ranks third in terms of its health impact nationally on quality of life and cost for the commercially insured population among the more than 200 conditions measured by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) Health Index. The “health impact” of a specific condition reflects the prevalence and severity for that condition as well as the years of life lost due to disability and risk of premature death.

The report, “Diabetes and the Commercially Insured U.S. Population,” represents an analysis of the BCBS Health Index data on diabetes which leverages the claims of more than 40 million BCBS members.

The study also finds that:

  • Diabetes accounts for 9.3 percent of the health impact of more than 200 conditions on commercially insured Americans – greater than chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, breast cancer and asthma combined.
  • Diabetes has the highest health impact on communities in the Southeast and Central South regions — approximately 30 percent higher than New England and the Pacific Northwest, the regions with the lowest diabetes impact.

"This report uniquely quantifies the health impact of diabetes on the longevity and quality of life,” said Dr. Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSA. “Despite the impact of diabetes’ continued growth across America, the good news is that this epidemic is preventable. Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies across the country are continuing to provide members with services and tools to proactively prevent diabetes through effective diet and disease management."

For more than 85 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have been actively involved in the health of their communities. Preventing the continued spread of diabetes in America is a key priority, as BCBS companies work to improve access to medical care and healthy lifestyle options in their communities.

This is the fourteenth study of the Blue Cross Blue Shield: The Health of America Report® series, a collaboration between BCBSA and Blue Health Intelligence, which uses a market-leading claims database to uncover key trends and insights into health care affordability and access to care.

About Blue Health Intelligence

Blue Health Intelligence (BHI) is the nation’s premier resource for data-driven insights about healthcare trends and best practices, promoting healthier lives and more affordable access to safe and effective care. BHI leverages a team of analytics experts and advanced technology, coupled with access to the greatest number of healthcare claims—172 million lives—gathered over 10 years in a safe, HIPAA-compliant, secure database. The resulting conformed, reliable data set has the broadest, deepest pool of integrated medical and pharmacy claims, reflecting medical utilization in every ZIP code. Blue Health Intelligence (BHI) is an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. BHI is a trade name of Health Intelligence Company, LLC.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.