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Vision Problems Closely Linked to Other Health Issues, Report Finds

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BCBS released a new study.

CHICAGO — People with serious vision and dental conditions are more likely to suffer from other significant ailments and incur higher medical costs, according to information released from the Blue Cross Blue Shield: The Health of America Report.

About 5.6 million Blue Cross and Blue Shield commercially insured members (8 percent) suffer from severe eye conditions that generate medical claims. People with serious vision conditions are twice as likely to visit the emergency room as those who do not have a severe vision medical claim, and are more likely to suffer from autoimmune disease, stroke, renal failure and diabetes. Members with these conditions have more than two fewer years of healthy life, according to the BCBS Health Index.

Findings show that 3.7 million BCBS members (6 percent) experience serious enough dental conditions to generate medical insurance claims. People with serious dental conditions are 25 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease and more likely to have autoimmune disorders, anemia, gastro-intestinal disorders and renal disease. They are twice as likely to visit the emergency room compared to those who do not have a medical claim for a severe dental condition. Members with these conditions have nearly two fewer years of healthy life, according to the BCBS Health Index.

“People need to pay attention to their dental and vision care, as they can indicate other serious health issues that should be addressed,” said Dr. Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. “Seeking oral and vision care throughout your life can help detect more serious problems down the road.”

The findings are based on medical claims data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index, a first-of-its-kind measurement of health for nearly every county in America. It encompasses more than 200 conditions that impact health and identifies those health conditions with the greatest impact on the insured population. The BCBS Health Index is powered by de-identified medical claims data from more than 41 million commercially insured members of BCBS companies. The interactive website allows people to measure the overall health and identify the top 10 conditions that negatively impact health at the state and county levels.

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The Blue Cross Blue Shield: The Health of America Report is a collaboration between BCBSA and Blue Health Intelligence, which uses a market-leading claims database to uncover key trends and insights into health care affordability and access to care.
For more information, visit www.bcbs.com/healthofamerica.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans.

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