There’s a good chance many of your Medicare clients have diabetes. According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report from the CDC, the condition impacts 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4 percent of the U.S. population. The rate is even high among senior populations: 25 percent of people aged 65 or older have diabetes. That’s one in four of your clients.
Diabetes is a serious condition that needs to be managed carefully in order to avoid health complications. To help your clients get the care they need, ask these 10 questions.
- What type of insulin is used? Differences in insulin go beyond brand name. Insulin can be rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting or long-acting. Make sure your client’s insulin is covered at a reasonable price.
- What medical equipment is used? For example, some people with diabetes use an insulin pump, a device that delivers insulin as an alternative to multiple daily injections. It is considered durable medical equipment under Medicare and may be covered.
- What other medications are used? People with diabetes may use medications other than insulin to manage their condition. Check coverage for these medications.
- Who are the client’s health care providers? A person with diabetes might see several doctors, including a primary care provider and an endocrinologist. Check whether these providers are considered in-network for different plans.
- Does your client experience dental problems? People with diabetes are especially susceptible to gum disease. According to the American Dental Association, gum disease can cause blood sugar to rise, and proper dental care is essential for people with diabetes. Some Medicare Advantage plans provide dental benefits not normally covered under Medicare.
- Does the client have foot problems? Diabetics often suffer from nerve problems that affect their feet. These issues can require amputation if left untreated, so quality foot care is essential. Check whether your client has a podiatrist or needs to see one.
- Does the client use diabetic shoes and inserts? These special shoes can be expensive, but they may be covered under Medicare.
- Does the client need education on nutrition? Proper diet is a key component of diabetes management. Your client may need help from an expert nutritionist.
- How often does your client get eye exams? Diabetes can lead to blurry vision and other eye problems, so eye exams are important. Some Medicare Advantage plans include routine eye exams and glasses.
- Does your client have transportation? Patients who lack transportation sometimes miss important medical appointments, and this can have a detrimental impact on their care. New rules have opened the door for Medicare Advantage plans to start offering more non-emergency transportation. For example, Lyft has announced that it has partnered with some plans to offer transportation to medical appointments.