16/02/2015 - 16:21

In the swim for diabetes

16/02/2015 - 16:21

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A new program aimed at prevention for those at risk of type 2 diabetes, and the management of those already diagnosed with the chronic disease, will seek support from Western Australia’s largest health insurer to encourage take-up of the service.

Swimming365 engages people who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and those who have identified as being at risk in a water exercise program with a trained physiologist.

Currently, participants receive a Medicare rebate if they are referred by their GP.

The pilot runs for eight weeks until the end of next month at the University of Western Australia and further programs are in the works, including a program targeting people at high risk of Alzheimer’s.

Swimming365 managing director Tom Picton-Warlow said the aim was to provide a high standard of service by exercise physiologists that was easily accessible to the broader community.

“As many as 5 per cent of people are diabetic in Australia, but there’s another 5 per cent that are at risk so you’re suddenly working with around 10 per cent of the population,” Mr Picton-Warlow told Business News.

The incidence of type 2 diabetes is projected to increase by 221 per cent between 2003 and 2033, prompting the need for preventative strategies.

Aquatic exercise can assist with managing many of the health targets related to diabetes, including those relating to the ability of the body to uptake glucose from the bloodstream and use it more efficiently.

Mr Picton-Warlow said this type of program would be more easily accessible and available to a much larger portion of the community if health insurance providers became involved.

HBF executive general manager health and wellness, Jennifer Solitario, said HBF was currently exploring whether such programs could be included as a specific benefit under its health insurance products.

While most health care insurers already cover exercise physiology, most do not currently cover this under a basic package.

“It just makes sense for them (health insurers) to tackle things right now … and if they can help people avoid developing chronic conditions it will save them a lot of money,” Mr Picton-Warlow said.

HBF has the highest market share of the health insurance market in WA with 54 per cent. The second largest and recently ASX-listed Medibank Private has a 21 per cent share.

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