Objective: Healthcare reform will result in substantial numbers of newly insured, low-income adults with chronic conditions. This paper examines the costs of a chronic disease management program among newly insured adults with diabetes and/or hypertension.
Research design and methods: Low-income adults with diabetes and/or hypertension were provided County-sponsored health insurance coverage and access to disease management. Health econometric methods were used to compare costs among participants in disease management to nonparticipants, both overall and in comparison between those who were newly insured versus previously insured under an alternative County-sponsored insurance product. Costs were also compared between those who qualified for County-sponsored coverage due to diabetes versus hypertension.
Results: Annual inpatient costs were $1260 lower, and outpatient costs were $723 greater, among participants in disease management (P<0.001 each). Participants in disease management without previous County-sponsored coverage had higher pharmacy costs ($154, P=0.002) than nonparticipants; whereas participants with diabetes had marginally significant lower overall costs compared with nonparticipants ($-685, P=0.070).
Conclusions: Disease management was successful in increasing the use of outpatient services among participants. The offsetting costs of the program suggest that disease management should be considered for some newly insured populations, especially for adults with diabetes.