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Diabetes health plan gains converts among employers

BY Jim Frederick

MINNEAPOLIS —The increasingly urgent quest among employers to curb rising health costs for the employees enrolled in their company-sponsored health plans has spawned a new and innovative pilot program in diabetes treatment and prevention.

To tackle the escalating crisis in out-of-control health costs, health insurance giant UnitedHealthcare has partnered with three major employers to develop and test a new approach to preventive care for those at risk or suffering from diabetes. UnitedHealthcare’s Diabetes Health Plan is designed to help employer-sponsored health plans control the rising costs of insuring diabetic and prediabetic employees and their families, while improving their health.

To that end, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard and Affinia Group now are working with UnitedHealthcare on a Diabetes Health Plan pilot project, and all three have either renewed or expanded their participation in the program for 2010, according to the insurer.

Other employers, including the city of New Orleans and the American Postal Workers Union Health Plan, will begin offering the plan to diabetic and prediabetic employees at the beginning of 2010, UnitedHealthcare announced in November.

The Diabetes Health Plan goes further than traditional diabetes wellness programs, the company asserted, “by providing patients with financial rewards for adhering to certain routine preventive care compliance requirements.” Among those requirements are regular blood sugar checks, routine exams and preventive screenings. All those steps “can result in better self-management” of the disease, UnitedHealthcare stated.

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Hy-Vee names new president

BY Alaric DeArment

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa A 28-year employee of Hy-Vee has become its new president, according to published reports.

The company appointed Randall Edeker as president of the supermarket chain Thursday at the company’s annual meeting, succeeding Ric Jurgens, who had served as president since 2001 and will maintain his position as chairman and CEO.

Edeker had previously served as EVP and COO.

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Tricare expands vaccination coverage to pharmacies, clinics

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Convenience and value. That’s what community pharmacy and their retail clinic partners deliver to their patients. And that’s what the Department of Defense is counting on in covering immunizations at local pharmacies and identifying convenient care clinics as network providers — two separate pieces of news issued within the past month that really underscore the importance of pharmacies and retail clinics in the delivery of health care today.

Prior to these announcements, military personnel interested in getting their flu shots had to schedule an appointment with their doctor, as Tricare only covered the cost of shots delivered in a doctor’s office.

“As a convenient and accessible healthcare provider, pharmacy is uniquely positioned to offer services for patients, such as vaccinations,” stated Steve Anderson, president and CEO for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Anderson noted that as of earlier this year, pharmacists have the ability to immunize patients in all 50 states. “[This] presents an important opportunity for pharmacists to counsel patients during their visit, and an additional healthcare provider from which to obtain these vaccinations.”

It’s also quite a bit of opportunity for pharmacy — Tricare provides healthcare coverage for 9.5 million eligible beneficiaries. Those beneficiaries pick up almost 2.3 million prescriptions every week, and 1.2 million of those at retail pharmacies, according to Tricare .

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