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October 5, 2010 > Diabetes Matters: Insurance Information for People with Diabetes

Diabetes Matters: Insurance Information for People with Diabetes

Learn How to Find Insurance that's Right for You

Diabetes can be an expensive disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes spend an average of $11,744 a year on health care expenses-more than twice the amount spent by people without diabetes.

If you have diabetes and have questions about health insurance and how the newly enacted health care reform law will pertain to your condition, Washington Hospital's Health Insurance Information Service will discuss what is changing and provide an overview of health insurance options that are available.

"The first step is to understand what your health insurance options are what these plans offer," says Linda Dawal, Health Insurance Information Service Coordinator at Washington Hospital. "Your typical diabetic insurance plan will cover the cost of your medication and office visits, but what you need to look out for are the non-typical costs."

Dawal will present an upcoming seminar titled, "For Your Benefit: Insurance Information for People with Diabetes," part of Washington Hospital's free Diabetes Matters education series. The seminar is scheduled for Thursday, October 7, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Conrad E. Anderson M.D. Auditorium located at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West) in Fremont. To register, please visit or call (510) 745-6556 for more information.

Dawal will discuss what different insurance plans cover, including accessory items such as glucose-monitoring equipment or diabetic shoes to help alleviate the effects of poor circulation.

"People suffering from diabetes have a lot of extra needs and finding supplemental insurance to cover it can be a great financial relief in managing your diabetes," she says. "The coverage provided by health insurers, employer-based group plans, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs varies widely."

What Type of Health Insurance Is Best For You?

At the upcoming seminar, you will learn about HMO and PPO insurance plans, Medi-Cal and other government sponsored programs. COBRA and how COBRA subsidies work will be discussed for those who have recently become unemployed.

What is COBRA?

People who have been laid off and had employer-sponsored health insurance are usually eligible for up to 18 months of continued coverage under COBRA, the federal law more formally known as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. COBRA requires continuation coverage to be offered to covered employees, their spouses, their former spouses, and their dependent children when group health coverage would otherwise be lost due to an employment lay off. Under COBRA, employers may require individuals who elect continuation coverage to pay the full cost of the coverage, plus a two percent administrative charge.

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It allows people to buy individual health insurance when they lose their group health insurance, even if they have a pre-existing health condition. If you qualify, all health plans that sell individual plans must offer you health insurance. You cannot be denied insurance because of your medical history. HIPPA adds protections and makes it easier to switch jobs without fear of losing health coverage for a preexisting condition.

Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP)

Through the Affordable Care Act, uninsured people with diabetes who have been continually uninsured for six months or more will be able to access insurance through a new program called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). PCIP, which is administered by either your state or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be available until the provisions banning discrimination based on pre-existing conditions are fully implemented in 2014.

"It's very important that people with diabetes find the appropriate resources to help manage their condition," Dawal says. 'The goal of the upcoming seminar is to lead people in the right direction and find the health insurance coverage that makes the most sense."

If you have diabetes and want to learn more about health insurance and assistance programs available to people in California, visit the American Diabetes Association website,

Come to the Diabetes Support Group

Success in managing diabetes has a lot to do with receiving and giving social support. For people who suffer from diabetes, The Washington Outpatient Diabetes Center offers a support group that allows people to have in-depth conversations about what's happening in their lives and share information about dealing with diabetes in a positive and caring environment.

The support group meetings are held at 8 p.m. every month immediately following the hour-long Diabetes Matters lecture which begins at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month. Family members and friends are also welcome. For more information about the support group or other classes and programs, call the Diabetes Services program at (510) 745-6556 or visit

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