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'Taking Action Together' Aims to Increase Screenings and Offer Education to People with Diabetes Living in the Inland Empire
Date:2/26/2009

California's Inland Empire residents have second highest rate of diabetes in the state

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., Feb. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Anthem Blue Cross in California, Merck & Co. and the American Diabetes Association are "Taking Action Together" in an effort to battle diabetes in the Inland Empire, which has the second highest rate of diabetes in the state of California.

While more individuals with diabetes living in the Inland Empire are getting the important blood sugar (A1C) screenings than in years past, they continue to have the lowest blood sugar screening rates of the major metropolitan areas in California, according to Anthem data of privately insured customers for 2005 to 2007.

"We are delighted to team up with Merck & Co. and the American Diabetes Association on this worthwhile campaign. Through this program, our goal is to reduce the impact of this potentially deadly disease on our members, their families and the community," said Dr. Michael Belman, medical director of clinical quality and innovations for Anthem Blue Cross of California. "We specifically focused our efforts on the Inland Empire as there are some real opportunities to help large numbers of people to improve their lives through screenings and education on the steps they can take now and into the future to manage diabetes."

People with diabetes can suffer serious long-term problems, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, blindness and amputation. Fortunately, diabetes can be managed, allowing people to live healthier lives and lowering their risks for these conditions.

A 2007 Anthem analysis of people in California who were enrolled in private insurance plans determined the following:

  • People with diabetes in the Inland Empire have dramatically increased control over their blood sugar in the past few years with 62 percent in 2005 having problems with control, versus only 38 percent in 2007.
  • 81 percent of those with diabetes in the Inland Empire received blood sugar screening, compared to 83 percent statewide.
  • 38 percent of those with diabetes in the Inland Empire who had their blood sugar tested had poor control of their disease, compared with 41 percent in Orange County, 26 percent in the Bay Area and 35 percent statewide.
  • 76 percent of those with diabetes in the Inland Empire received urine testing, lower than any other metropolitan area throughout the state.
  • 37 percent of those with diabetes had cholesterol tests through their physicians that resulted in LDL tests lower than 100 mg/dL and 57 percent had readings below 130 mg/dL.

"Prevention and management of the complications of diabetes are pivotal in this epidemic," said Katie Croskrey, executive director of the American Diabetes Association for the Greater San Diego Area, which includes the Inland Empire. "We must do everything possible to educate people on prevention of diabetes and its complications."

The "Taking Action Together" program, organized and funded by Merck and Anthem, is reaching out to employers and members of the community with materials developed by the American Diabetes Association to help screen for potential diabetes and to help them control it to improve their lives and lower the high costs associated with diabetes in the Inland Empire. Participation in this program is not limited to Anthem Blue Cross members.

"Diabetes is an extremely prevalent disease that affects millions of lives," said Dr. David Abrahamson, executive medical director for Merck & Co. "A project involving health care providers, employer groups and the community at large could go a long way towards improving both the quality of medical care and the quality of patients' lives. This is truly an example of 'taking action together.'"

The program includes partnerships with Anthem employer groups in the Inland Empire area. The program will provide work site health screening buses and workshops led by diabetes educators.

Merck is reaching out to people living in the community by holding 20 free diabetes workshops facilitated by a certified diabetes educator in both English and Spanish.

*Inland Empire is defined as those living in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

About Anthem Blue Cross

Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. (R) ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association.

About Merck

Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck currently discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines to address unmet medical needs. The Company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service. For more information, visit www.merck.com.

About ADA

The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.


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SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Merck & Co.
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