The Greater Lehigh Valley has more people of working age who have Type 2 diabetes compared to the rest of the state and country, which can potentially cost employers more for health care, according to a new report from the Lehigh Valley Business Coalition on Healthcare.
Between 2014 and 2015, the percentage of people between 18 and 64 with Type 2 diabetes increased slightly in the Greater Lehigh Valley, as defined as Allentown, Bethlehem and Reading, according to the statewide study.
In 2015, the percentage of people with Type 2 diabetes between the ages of 36 and 64 in Reading was 42.2 percent and 41.6 percent in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton area, compared to 42.2 percent in Pennsylvania and 45 percent in the U.S.
“Diabetes is a major factor in employer spending for medical care, and its impact on other conditions can further exacerbate the health status of employees,” said Tom Croyle, president of LVBCH, a nonprofit coalition of employers that seeks to provide access to quality, affordable health care to their employees.
Professional inpatient charges were highest for patients with Type 2 diabetes with a complication of hypoglycemia in 2015. The costs in Reading and Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton were more than double those for Type 2 diabetes patients. Reading had the highest cost ($9,041) compared to the state ($5,714) and U.S. ($5,927). The cost was $4,656 in Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton.
The percentage of people with Type 2 diabetes throughout the state was also more likely than those nationwide to be obese, 25.3 percent compared to 19.5 percent nationally. In the Lehigh Valley, the percentage was 20 percent; it was 26.7 percent in Reading.
Sanofi US, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Bridgewater, N.J., and with facilities in Swiftwater in the Poconos, sponsored the report.