About 8.8% of the privately insured U.S. population in 2012 had diabetes or was diagnosed as being at high risk for diabetes, up from 8.3% in 2011, but the rates of disease varied depending on age, gender, and region of the country, says a new report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI). In 2012, over one quarter of men between the ages of 55 and 64 and nearly one in 10 Southerners had diabetes or were at high risk for diabetes, according to the report.

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HCCI analyzed the health care claims of more than 40 million Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) from 2008 to 2012, and examined subpopulations by age, gender, and region. HCCI identified individuals with “diabetes” as those diagnosed with diabetes and those at high risk for developing diabetes (diagnosed with gestational diabetes or pre-diabetes).

“This is the first time we’ve used our repository of claims data to track the prevalence of chronic disease among the privately insured,” said David Newman, executive director of HCCI. “While using claims data for public health surveillance purposes has some limitations, it provides a timely way to track emerging trends and can inform policymakers, providers, and patients alike.”

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Key findings from the report:

  • Population prevalence: HCCI identified 6.4% of the privately insured as having diabetes or at high risk for diabetes in 2008. By 2012, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes reached 8.8%.
  • Age: Diabetes was most prevalent in older adults. In 2012, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes was 14.3%among privately insured adults ages 45 to 54, and 26.3%among adults ages 55 to 64.
  • Gender: In 2012, 9.1% of men and 8.4% of women were identified as having diagnosed diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes. Compared to men of the same age, women between the ages of 19 and 44 had higher prevalence. However, after age 45, the prevalence rates for men rapidly outpaced that of women.
  • Region: Prevalence was highest in the Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, and East South Central census divisions, where nearly 10% of people with employer-sponsored insurance were diagnosed with diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes in 2012. Prevalence was lowest in the Mountain, Pacific, and New England census divisions.

The report is available on The Health Care Cost Institute website.

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