Two-Thirds of People with Diabetes Miss Some or All Critically Important Exams
AHRQ News and Numbers, November 19, 2009
Only a third of the 16.5 million Americans who reported that they had diabetes had all three exams done that are considered critical for managing their disease and preventing complications in 2007, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Data from the Federal agency looked at how frequently adults with diabetes had a health professional check their blood sugar levels, examine their eyes for damage or evaluate their feet for poor circulation.
According to the analysis:
- Just 58 percent reported having had one or two of the exams, while 3 percent didn't have any done, and 6 percent said they didn't know if they had any of the tests.
- Privately insured adults ages 18 to 64 were twice as likely as adults who were uninsured to have all three tests (36 percent versus 18 percent).
- About 40 percent of adults ages 65 and older with diabetes who had Medicare plus a secondary private insurance plan had all three tests, compared with 31.5 percent of those with Medicare only.
- In addition, one-third of blacks with diabetes reported using insulin compared to 22.5 percent of whites and 21 percent of Hispanics. In contrast, Hispanics were more likely to take pills to control their diabetes compared to white and blacks with diabetes (84 percent to 77 percent).
AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, improves the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid. For more information, go to Diabetes Management: Tests and Treatment among the Adult U.S. Civilian, Population, 2007.
AHRQ has a free, illustrated guide to help people with Type II diabetes who take their medicine orally compare their options for treatment based on the benefits and risks. Another guide helps people who use insulin learn about their options and the differences between premixed insulin. For information about these and other consumer guides based on the results of AHRQ's comparative effectiveness research, go to http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/guides-for-patients-and-consumers/.
For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at Bob.Isquith@ahrq.hhs.gov or call (301) 427-1539.