Based on evidence that early-stage diabetes can be identified through regular testing, insurers will now have to offer more such tests, as well as followup treatment, as part of health plans, at no charge to plan members.

On the heels of this news comes research that indicates the same is likely true for hypertension.

Published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the research showed that more than two-thirds of employees (68 percent) whose hypertension was discovered during workplace health screenings didn’t previously know they had the condition.

The study was released by Health Advocate, a health screening provider. Data from more than 31,000 members of self-insured employer group plans was analyzed. In addition to the high percentage who had undiagnosed hypertension, the study said prescriptions for hypertension medication spiked following the screenings, indicating that plan members were quick to respond to the bad news.

Other results included more proof that weight is a critical factor in hypertension. Of those newly diagnosed, obese plan members had a 155 percent higher risk of being in the newly diagnosed group than those who weren’t obese.

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“Our analysis shows the value and necessity of these onsite health screenings for both organizations and their employees,” said Dr. Antonio Legorreta, president of engage2Health. “By identifying issues like hypertension sooner, employees can access appropriate treatment earlier, leading to improved health outcomes and reduced costs.”

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