Tobacco and Diabetes
Tobacco use closely correlates with the development of Type 2 Diabetes and exacerbations in those who have it. Quitting can reduce diabetic medical claims by 61.9%.
April 29th, 2022
Diabetes is a chronic health condition and the 7th leading cause of death in the US. More than 25 million adults have been diagnosed with diabetes and an estimated 89 million are at risk of developing it. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) makes up 90 to 95% of all diagnosed diabetes and is the type that is most impacted by lifestyle. But there are habit changes that can help to prevent and even reverse diabetic risk.
One of the biggest preventable risk factors for diabetics is tobacco smoking and vaping. It adds $3,929 in healthcare costs for each diabetic patient who smokes. And worse, it carries a human cost in a reduced quality of life, lower productivity, and premature death.
Smoking is associated with the highest additional costs of any preventable risk factor. And, non-diabetics who smoke have a much greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes in the first place. In fact, they are 30 to 40% more likely. As Diabetes Prevention Programs mature, it's important to look at risk factors beyond weight loss.
Smoking makes it harder to manage T2D since nicotine lessens the effectiveness and regulation of insulin. Studies have shown that insulin can start to become more effective at lowering blood sugar levels just 8 weeks after a smoker quits.
To investigate the impact of T2D on tobacco users in the Vincere Quit Program, we analyzed de-identified claims data from self-insured clients. We were surprised to learn just how impactful tobacco cessation is on improving the management of diabetes: Diabetics who use tobacco had 154% higher PMPM employee Medical Claims paid out for diabetes-related costs than those who did not use tobacco or quit. Of the ~$9,000 in annual healthcare costs attributable to diabetes for the average employee, a staggering $5,571 could be attributed to the impact of tobacco use on the condition. As we discuss below, we saw similar numbers for hypertension, back pain, and depression. These findings confirm the urgency of employers offering strong and effective tobacco quit programs based on the latest clinical approaches.
The single most important thing a self-insured entity can do to improve the health of its costliest members is to target the chronic care issue that exacerbates and cuts across all of these disease states: tobacco. Along with higher than average incidences of hypertension (31%), asthma (19%), back pain (25%), and depression (19%), we know that helping people quit smoking has far-reaching health effects on whole-body wellness and total claims costs for our self-insured clients. By successfully engaging the highest acuity employees, we've proven this time and again. In fact, 20% of Vincere Health Quit Program participants have been diagnosed with T2D compared to 7% of the general commercial employee population.
At Vincere Health, we respect each participant as the author of their habit change journey. Whether they arrive at our door with a smoking or vaping habit, poor sleep, unmanaged stress, or a lack of social support or resources, we stand ready to help them move the boulder that is blocking them from healthier living. We recognize the whole body connection between one health condition and another and reinforce the ripple effect between one lifestyle change and another. No single health choice exists in a vacuum, and our flexible programs, smart tech, and experienced coaches are well equipped to both guide and follow our participants’ paths to comprehensive well-being.
Vincere Health’s solution for smokers is backed by licensed clinicians, proven financial rewards technology, and an easy-to-use handheld carbon monoxide monitoring device for tobacco intake verification. On average, patients interact with the novel technology 9x per week while quitting and receive $110 for healthy behaviors. The program reports a 52% biochemically verified Quit Rate. The company has already launched successful clinical validations with leading institutions such as Boston Medical Center and Harvard School of Public Health, received state-funded grants, and had its research accepted by the prestigious American Thoracic Society Journal. To learn more about Vincere's solutions, please contact us here.