Approximately 8.8 percent of insured Americans had diabetes or had a doctor tell them they were at risk for the disease in 2012 according to a new report by HCCI, the Health Care Cost Institute. This rate is up from 8.3 percent the previous year.

Between the years of 2008 and 2012, HCCI analyzed the healthcare claims of more than 40 million people covered under employer-sponsored insurance. HCCI identifies a person as having diabetes after the patient has received an official diagnosis from a doctor. A physician will diagnose someone with diabetes when the patient has a high blood sugar level. For the purposes of their studies, HCCI says a person is at risk for developing diabetes if a doctor has diagnosed her with pre-diabetes or gestational diabetes, a condition marked by high blood sugar levels only during pregnancy.

This new study shows the rate for diabetes and pre-diabetes varies greatly across the country, depending on gender, geographic location, and age. According to HCCI, more than one-quarter of insured men aged 55 to 64 and nearly one in ten insured Southerners had diabetes or were at risk for developing the condition in 2012. In this study, doctors diagnosed 9.1 percent of insured men and 8.4 percent of insured women with diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes in 2012.

Long ago, medical professionals learned type 2 diabetes is most prevalent in older individuals. This new HCCI study shows the 21012 prevalence of diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes was 14 percent among insured individuals aged 45 to 54 and 26.3 percent in those aged 55 to 64. The gender gap widens past the age of 45, with prevalence rates in men vastly outpacing those in women in the same age groups.

The study is significant because it is the first time HCCI has used this large bank of claims information to monitor chronic conditions among the insured. While there are limitations to the benefits of using the data in this way, study authors see it as a timely way to identify emerging trends.

Source: Communications, Burness. "Diagnosed diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes on the rise among privately insured Americans." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 19 Dec. 2013. Web. 9 Jan. 2014.