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The Diabetes Health Plan and Healthcare Utilization Among Beneficiaries with Low Incomes.

Narain KDC, Turk N, Duru OK, Moin T, Mangione CM. The Diabetes Health Plan and Healthcare Utilization Among Beneficiaries with Low Incomes. Journal of general internal medicine. 2023 May 1; 38(7):1672-1680.

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BACKGROUND: The socioeconomic status (SES) gradient in hospital and emergency room utilization among adults with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is partially driven by cost-related non-adherence. OBJECTIVE: To test the impact of the Diabetes Health Plan (DHP), a diabetes-specific health plan incorporating value-based insurance design principles on healthcare utilization among low-income adults with T2DM. DESIGN: To examine the impact of the DHP on healthcare utilization, we employed a difference-in-differences (DID) study design with a propensity-matched comparison group. We modeled count and dichotomous outcomes using Poisson and logit models, respectively. PARTICIPANTS: Cohort of adults (18-64) with T2DM, with an annual household income < $ 30,000, and who were continuously enrolled in an employer-sponsored UnitedHealthcare plan for at least 2 years between 2009 and 2014. INTERVENTIONS: The DHP reduces or eliminates out-of-pocket costs for disease management visits, diabetes-related medicines, and diabetes self-monitoring supplies. The DHP also provides access to diabetes-specific telephone case management as well as other online resources. MAIN MEASURES: Number of disease management visits (N = 1732), any emergency room utilization (N = 1758), and any hospitalization (N = 1733), within the year. KEY RESULTS: DID models predicting disease management visits suggested that DHP-exposed beneficiaries had 1.7 fewer in-person disease management visits per year (- 1.70 [95% CI: - 2.19, - 1.20], p < 0.001), on average, than comparison beneficiaries. Models for emergency room (0.00 [95% CI: - 0.06, 0.06], p = 0.966) and hospital utilization (- 0.03 [95% CI: - 0.08, - 0.01], p = 0.164) did not demonstrate statistically significant changes associated with DHP exposure. CONCLUSIONS: While no relationship between DHP exposure and high-cost utilization was observed in the short term, fewer in-person disease management visits were observed. Future studies are needed to determine the clinical implications of these findings.

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