Managing Diabetes: Health Plan Coverage of Services and Supplies

GAO-05-210 Published: Feb 25, 2005. Publicly Released: Mar 28, 2005.
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Diabetes, which afflicts millions of Americans, is a manageable disease whose effects can be mitigated with proper care, regularly received. Experts recommend certain services and supplies for managing diabetes. Because these can be costly, concerns exist about whether individuals with diabetes have access to and receive what they need. Little is known, however, about health plan coverage of diabetes services and supplies. GAO reviewed the extent to which (1) states require insurance policies to cover diabetes services and supplies, (2) health coverage not subject to state requirements includes diabetes services and supplies, and (3) individuals with diabetes ages 18 and older receive services and supplies. GAO analyzed all 50 states' and the District of Columbia's laws and regulations pertaining to diabetes coverage. GAO also obtained from selected health plans providing coverage not subject to state requirements--13 large-employer plans and 3 plans in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP)--information on coverage of 10 services and nine supplies identified as important for individuals with diabetes. In addition, GAO obtained national data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on individuals' receipt of diabetes services and supplies. GAO received technical comments from CDC and incorporated them in the report as appropriate.

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