News with clear eyes. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

The number of people in North America and the Caribbean region who have diabetes is now bigger than the population of Canada.

The International Diabetes Federation, Brussels, reports that the population of North American and Caribbean people with diabetes has reached about 38 million in an announcement of the release of the fifth edition of the federation’s Diabetes Atlas. Canada has a total population of about 34 million.

The federation released the new edition today because today is World Diabetes Day 2011.

The experts who helped create the atlas expect the number of people in North America and the Caribbean region with diabetes to increase to about 50 million by 2030.

The federation notes that there are probably about 12 million people in that zone who already have diabetes but are not included in the current diabetes population figure because they have not yet been diagnosed.

In the United States, diabetes kills about 180,000 people per year, the federation says.

MEDIGAP ALLIANCE

Independence Holding Company (IHC), Stamford, Conn. (NYSE:IHC), is using technology from eHealth Inc., Mountain View, Calif. (Nasdaq:EHTH), to distribute its new line of Medicare supplement insurance products through its own e-commerce site for agents in 16 states.

IHC also will sell the Medigap coverage through eHealth sites.

IHC has sold Medigap products through other channels, but this is the first time the company has sold the products directly to consumers.

IHC is planning to sell Medigap plans in Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.