University of Michigan, Blue Care Network Study Quantifies Health Care Savings of Regular Dental Care for Patients with Diabetes

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 General News
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DETROIT, Dec. 9 Overall medical and pharmacy costs inpeople with diabetes can be lower by more than 10 percent per year inindividuals receiving regular, non-surgical periodontal services, according toa recent University of Michigan study. The study also showed the sameprocedures were linked to as much as 19 percent lower diabetes-related medicalcosts. The research findings further underscore the importance of the linkbetween medical and dental health.

"Working with the Michigan Blues, we found insured adults with diabetes inMichigan who receive routine periodontal treatment, such as dental cleaningsand scaling, have significantly lower medical care costs than those who donot," George Taylor, D.M.D., the study's principal investigator and associateprofessor at The University of Michigan School of Dentistry, said. "Theresults of our analyses provide additional evidence supporting a beneficialrole for periodontal treatment in improving overall health in people withdiabetes and in lowering overall costs."

The study analyzed five years of claims data from Blue Care Network, aMichigan-based HMO, and was funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of MichiganFoundation. The claims data pool consisted of 2,674 members with diabetesaged 18-64 with at least 12 consecutive months of medical, dental andpharmaceutical coverage.

"Our belief is that research like this can have positive effects on thequality of care and cost of treating patients with diabetes," Dr. IraStrumwasser, executive director and CEO of the BCBSM Foundation, said. "Thisstudy demonstrates our effort to improve the health of all Michiganresidents."

"The Michigan Blues are in a unique position to offer members health plansthat take advantage of the proven link between oral health and overallhealth," says Douglas R. Woll, M.D., senior vice president and chief medicalofficer for Blue Care Network. "Those with a Blue medical and dental planbenefit from health information and care integration that can lead to improvedhealth and lower costs."

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation is dedicated toimproving the health of Michigan residents by supporting health care researchand innovative health programs. The foundation's grant programs are conductedin Michigan by Michigan-based researchers and nonprofit community health careorganizations.

Over the past 25 years, the BCBSM Foundation has contributed approximately$20 million in grants for research and $5 million for community healthprograms. This funding has resulted in enhancements to quality, patient safetyand access to care for the people of Michigan. The foundation also supportsefforts to control the rising costs of health care through research,demonstration and evaluation projects.

The BCBSM Foundation is the philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross BlueShield of Michigan. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization andan independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Formore information, visit

Blue Care Network of Michigan and its subsidiaries have 648,000 members.Blue Care Network features award-winning disease management programs and thelargest HMO network of physicians and hospitals in the state, with more than4,000 primary care physicians, 10,100 specialists and 118 hospitals. Blue CareNetwork, a nonprofit corporation, is the affiliated HMO of Blue Cross BlueShield of Michigan and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and BlueShield Association.

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation

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