Healthcare reform changes boost glucose testing in states with healthcare exchanges

A new study published in a major diabetes journal suggests that healthcare reform changes have boosted glucose testing in states that formed healthcare exchanges. The result confirms Kalorama Information's predictions on the topic. The healthcare market research firm predicted in their report on the ACA that IVD industry would fair better than pharmaceuticals or non-testing medical devices as they were better set up to benefit from new patients, and that new patient gains in IVD outweighed taxes and reimbursement changes in the law. Kalorama Information completed a study on the impact of healthcare reform on IVD when the ACA mandate provision was found constitutional by the Supreme Court.

Kalorama Information estimated glucose testing by patients to be an eight billion dollar market in 2014.

"Testing is by its nature preventative, and the theory has been that more office visits from newly insured patients should lead to more testing," said Bruce Carlson, Publisher of Kalorama Information. "In at least one IVD category we have some evidence of that."

The study was completed by researchers at Quest Diagnostics and published in Diabetes Care, the official publication of the American Diabetes Association. The analysis of de-identified test results of 434,288 people with newly identified diabetes, tested by Quest Diagnostics, found that newly identified diabetes surged 23 percent in Medicaid-enrolled patients in states that expanded Medicaid, but increased less than one percent (0.4 percent) in states that did not expand. The newly identified patients with diabetes were also more likely to be identified at earlier stages of disease in states that expanded Medicaid than in those that did not.

The enactment of the Affordable Care Act with its expansion of Medicaid benefits has led to an uptick in diabetes diagnoses by almost one-quarter, according to a study of de-identified test results from Quest Diagnostics. That's in states that opted to expand Medicaid under the new law during the first 6 months of 2014 as compared to the first 6 months of 2013. In states that did not accept the Medicaid expansion, the number of diagnoses expanded by a scant 0.4%.

"Glucose testing is up where patients are covered," said Carlson. "The next question would be 'Will this impact patient health directly?' The study does address that, as it shows that early diagnoses are related to the presence or lack of insurance."

As of February, 22 states and the District of Columbia had accepted expanded Medicaid coverage under ACA, while another 6 opted for an expansion under an alternative plan. In the United States, approximately 1.7 million people are diagnosed with diabetes each year; overall, the cost of health care and lost productivity associated with diabetes is estimated at about $322 billion annually. Undetected and untreated, diabetes typically worsens, causing heart disease, blindness, kidney failure or death.

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