Obamacare Provisions Help Diabetics, Doctors Say

 Diabetes Fast Facts

  • One in three kids born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes
  • Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States
  • Nationally, approximately 35 percent of adults age 20 and older at estimated to have prediabetes
  • It is estimated about 758,300 Michigan adults have been diagnosed with diabetes
  • An additional 250,000 Michigan adults are thought to have diabetes but are undiagnosed

*Statistics courtesy of the National Kidney Foundation Michigan

Diabetes comes with expensive medications and materials and used to be classified as a pre-existing condition.

That spelled bad news for a Type-1 diabetic like Shawn Dhanak.

"It's an expensive disease to insure," said Dhanak.

Dhanak, who works for the non-partisan, non-profit group Enroll American which is pro-Affordable Care Act, says he was turned away from insurance plans because of his pre-existing condition. The insurers that would allow him on their plans charged sky-high premiums.

"I was looking basically at a life of tremendous financial burden and really a ball and chain attached to my feet," said Dhanak, adding he would sometimes have to ration his insulin and curtail his daily blood testing to cope.

But now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Dhanak says everything has changed.

And doctors say he isn't alone.

"The extra opportunities for coverage through the Affordable Care Act and through the Healthy Michigan plan really give people with diabetes a chance to get the healthcare they need when they need it," said Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Community Health. "With the Affordable Care Act, it is no longer possible for insurance plans to exclude people solely on the basis of having a pre-existing condition. That's good news for the thousands of people in Michigan with diabetes."

Nearly 26 million Americans suffer from diabetes, according to the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, including about 758,300 in Michigan -- that amounts to one of every ten Michigan adults. It's the leading cause of kidney failure and can also lead to heart disease and stroke.

Davis says it's a disease that requires constant attention to a number of factors. He sees patients with diabetes, particularly the previously uninsured as Obamacare's big winners.

"Because while they haven't had coverage, they may not have been able to keep up with their medicines or their routine care," said Davis. "And that means coverage equals better care for people with diabetes and other chronic conditions."

At the Sparrow Diabetes Center, Director Dr. Paul Entler says he's more excited about the preventative measures that come with new health plans.

"There are 79 million pre diabetics," he said. "If we're able to prevent them from developing full-blown diabetes, it's going to save the system a large amount of money."

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