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Prevention pays, but not in the short term

Pouring money into controlling diabetes can cut the cost of care -- but not until years later.

May 07, 2007|Susan Brink | Times Staff Writer

Sooner or later, the bill for long-term complications comes due. By that time, people who have gotten the disease in their 40s or 50s may have aged into Medicare coverage.

And as the disease increasingly strikes younger adults and even children, many could lose their jobs due to complications such as blindness, stroke or amputation, becoming uninsurable long before the Medicare age of 65. Without employer-sponsored health insurance, their preexisting conditions could render individual insurance unaffordable.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday May 11, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Diabetes: In Monday's Health section, an article on diabetes care stated that Integrated Healthcare Assn. offers an incentive for good diabetes care. In fact, the organization coordinates the payout program, but the individual insurance company members pay the incentive.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday May 14, 2007 Home Edition Health Part F Page 11 Features Desk 1 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Diabetes: A May 7 Health article on diabetes care said that Integrated Healthcare Assn. offered an incentive for good diabetes care. In fact, the organization coordinates the payout program, but the individual insurance company members pay the incentive.

For the growing crop of youngsters diagnosed with diabetes, that could be devastating when they leave home and lose parental coverage.

"Every person I take care of will eventually be uninsured," says Dr. Francine R. Kaufman, head of endocrinology and metabolism at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and a USC pediatrics professor.

Those who can no longer earn a living could qualify for Medicare, even before the age of 65, after 24 months on Social Security Disability Insurance. If poor enough, they could qualify for the state program, MediCal.

In other words, says Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, president and director of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, "the government is ultimately going to pay for those people."

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susan.brink@latimes.com

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