Share this article

print logo

WNY insurer finds those with diabetes can do more to stay healthy

Tens of thousands of upstate New York adults who have diabetes jeopardize their health by failing to take basic steps to keep their chronic illness in check, according to data gathered by Univera Healthcare.

d-nanometerAn estimated 387,000 adults in upstate New York live with diabetes, a serious health condition where the body does not produce or properly use insulin to digest sugar (glucose). Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage many parts of the body, including blood vessels. Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness, kidney disease and non-traumatic lower extremity amputation. It also is a major contributor to the nation’s leading killer, cardiovascular disease that leads to heart disease and stroke.

“Physicians can help patients manage diabetes, but patients must be active partners who take charge of their own health in order to maintain or improve overall health status,” said Matthew Bartels, Univera Healthcare chief medical officer for health care improvement. “Our latest research focuses on whether patients are, by their own admission, adhering to the care recommendations necessary to keep their diabetes in control.”


Recommendation: Have an A1C blood test at least twice per year that shows average blood sugar level over the previous two to three months

Compliance rate: 67 percent

Recommendation: Have an annual complete eye exam, including eye dilation

Compliance rate: 73 percent

Recommendation: Have a health provider examine feet for sores or irritations at least annually

Compliance rate: 73 percent

Recommendation: Visit a dentist or dental clinic at least yearly

Compliance rate: 55 percent

Recommendation: Stay physically active as approved by your doctor

Compliance rate: 53 percent

Recommendation: Visit a health professional at least yearly for diabetes

Compliance rate: 83 percent

Recommendation: Get a flu vaccine every year

Compliance rate: 57 percent

Mary Ann Drake leads diabetes education classes at the Southtowns YMCA. The Buffalo Niagara Y will start new classes in January. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News file photo)

Mary Ann Drake leads diabetes education classes at the Southtowns YMCA. The Buffalo Niagara Y will start new classes in January. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News file photo)

Using self-reported survey data collected locally and nationally by government health agencies, Univera found that 64 percent of adults who have diabetes check their blood sugar at least once a day, as recommended by health experts that include those with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“That percentage means that nearly 140,000 upstate New York adults with diabetes are not taking just one of several very important steps for their own health,” Bartels said in a news release. Patients who manage Type 2 diabetes with non-insulin medications or with diet and exercise alone may not need to test their blood sugar daily. Many people with diabetes test their glucose levels two to four times a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of the most important steps that a patient can take to improve his or her health is to receive formal diabetes self-management education. According to Univera, only 45 percent of patients do that.

The Univera Healthcare analysis, summarized in the form of an infographic, highlights the self-reported rate at which upstate New York patients comply with recommendations made by the HHS, CDC and American Diabetes Association. You can see it online here.

“Individuals who live with diabetes can help themselves in very significant ways,” Bartels said. “But they must take charge of their health by working closely with their physicians to act on these basic recommendations.”

For more information, visit

There are no comments - be the first to comment