According to a recent report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), health care spending per capita for people with diabetes was a whopping $16,021 per year, compared to $4,396 for people without diabetes. Diabetes patients, in other words, pay nearly four times as much for healthcare as those not suffering from the disease.

The HCCI also found that the rate of health care spending growth for diabetic patients was nearly twice what it was for all other insured people. The report surveyed insured Americans between 2012 and 2014, both those with diabetes and those without.

Given that about half of Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes, how are we going to turn this alarming trend around? Part of the answer may lie in wellness programs, which can help in two specific ways. Wellness programs can prevent and/or early detect diabetes in those who are at risk, and it can help those who are already diagnosed better manage their diabetes. How can wellness programs help? By applying clinical data to close gaps in care.

For example, approximately one-third of Americans have diabetes and do not even know it. Surprisingly, two-thirds of this undiagnosed population has seen a doctor two or more times in the past year. Wellness programs that automatically intake and analyze an individual’s health data from multiple sources can be an early detection system when providers are not. Early detection can lead to better treatment, prevention of co-morbidities and reduced utilization.

For those already diagnosed with diabetes, 73% say they have difficulty coping with their illness and 66 percent feel their diabetes is not completely under control (according to a 2015 HealthMine survey). Nearly a third (30%) of those with pre-diabetes do not know that their condition is reversible.

A well-designed wellness program could provide pre-diabetic members with personalized recommendations to avoid developing the full-blown disease. It could also support those who are already diagnosed with necessary health actions and dynamic incentives to manage and control their disease. It could send these reminders digitally, to members’ smartphones, engaging them anytime, anywhere.

As the numbers indicate, increasing the focus on diabetes prevention and management would not only improve health outcomes, but also result in real savings for the healthcare consumer—and for plan sponsors who help foot the bills.

For the full report from the Health Care Cost Institute, click here.

[Photo Credit: Alan Levine on Flickr via Creative Commons 2.0]