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August 29, 2012
Diabetes in US teens rockets to 25 per cent

One-quarter of Americans age 12 to19 have diabetes or pre-diabetes, the medical journal Pediatrics reports.

According to the May 21, 2012 issue of the journal, 23 per cent of adolescents now have the disease. That compares to nine per cent a decade ago.

The findings are "very concerning" according to Center for Disease Control epidemiologist and lead author Ashleigh May.

While the Pediatrics findings centre on US population data, similarities in lifestyles and health trends suggest that these tendencies could also be developing within Canada’s population. The Canadian Diabetes Association projects that incidence rates of the disease will jump by 50 per cent within the next 15 years.

If the Pediatrics reports are true, plan sponsors could be faced with increased and long-term cost pressures resulting from diabetes and the other medical complications resulting from the disease. Diabetes has been associated with kidney disease, circulatory illnesses, blindness, infections and other serious medical conditions.

With up to one-quarter of dependant children now at risk of diabetes, plan sponsors could face increased drug and medical expenses associated with diabetes treatments. To complicate matters, those same teenagers will be joining the workforce within the next 10 years, bringing their increased risk potential and medical costs to their employers’ group medical plans. This would reverse traditional insurance assumptions whereby the smaller and less frequent claims of younger, healthier populations offset the costs of the more frequent and larger claims incurred by less healthy or older individuals.

With a sizeable minority of both younger and older populations at risk of chronic illnesses, claims risk – and its associated premiums – will likely increase in the near future.

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