Press Release

Study shows diabetes education lowers health care costs

For Release: September 28, 2009

Diana Pihos at 312.601.4864,
Chris Martin at 630.670.2745,

September 28, 2009—Chicago, IL— A new study of an extensive database of Medicare and commercial (employee and dependent) member claims revealed that people with diabetes who received diabetes education have lower average health care costs than patients who do not participate in diabetes education. The study is published in the September/October issue of The Diabetes Educator, the journal of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. The study was conducted by Solucia Consulting of Farmington, Conn., and underwritten by a grant from the AADE.

Diabetes education is defined as the ongoing process of facilitating the knowledge, skill and ability necessary for diabetes self-care. The diabetes education intervention aims to achieve optimal health status, better quality of life and reduce the need for costly health care. It is most often provided by diabetes educators, who are health care professionals that have specialized training in diabetes care, traditionally drawn from nursing and dietetics and more recently involving pharmacists. 

The authors studied three years of claims data (2005-2007) from commercial insurance and Medicare plans that reflect care of 634,645 individuals with diabetes. The researchers compared claims from those who received diabetes education with those who did not.

According to the analysis, commercially insured patients who received diabetes education cost, on average, 5.7 percent less than those who do not receive diabetes education. Medicare patients who participated in diabetes education cost the health care system 14 percent less than Medicare patients who did not participate. Moreover, those who belonged to physician practices that more frequently referred patients for diabetes education had better overall quality care for their diabetes. 

To further corroborate these findings, the authors followed 93,674 patients with diabetes for three years--65,191 had private insurance and 28,483 were Medicare recipients. The researchers then separated those who received diabetes education from those who did not and applied a statistical analysis to this group based on the payments each group’s claims generated.

In the commercial population, the average cost of the group that did not receive diabetes education increased at 7.9% annually, compared with 3.3% for the group that received diabetes education. Similarly, the Medicare group that did not receive education experienced average annual increases in cost of 18.2%, compared with 14.5% for the group with diabetes education. 

“The study shows that collaboration between diabetes educators and physicians yields positive clinical quality and cost savings,” said lead researcher Ian Duncan of Solucia. “If referral rates to diabetes educators are increased, both cost and quality will be improved.

“The current discussion around healthcare reform is about bending the cost curve, and what this study has shown is that patients who are using diabetes education are already experiencing a significant bending of the cost curve” Duncan concluded.

Read the full journal article

About the AADE:
Founded in 1973, AADE was created by and for diabetes educators. AADE is dedicated to providing our members with the tools, training and support necessary to help patients change their behavior and accomplish their diabetes self-management goals.

As a multidisciplinary professional association, AADE represents and supports the diabetes educator by providing members the resources to stay abreast of the current research, methods and trends in the field and by offering opportunities to network and collaborate with other healthcare professionals.

AADE is continuously working towards our vision of successful self-management for all people with diabetes and related conditions.