From August 2002 through July 2004, staff from Georgetown University Medical Center's Institute for Health Care Research and Policy helped the American Diabetes Association create a health insurance assistance service. The service's caseworkers assist members who call with health insurance problems; they also collect their personal stories and document them for the association's policy specialists.
Between the service's inception in March 2003 and June 2004, caseworkers at the American Diabetes Association opened 851 cases for members who called with health insurance problems. However, due to gaps in federal and state consumer protection laws designed to help people maintain coverage, the service's two health insurance specialists were able to resolve only 20 percent of the problems.
The American Diabetes Association voted to increase its financial and staff resources devoted to health insurance issues. This decision, which occurred as a result of senior leadership at the association "connecting the dots" between the callers' problems and related public policy issues, is positioning the association to become an active participant in the national debate on health insurance, according to staff at the American Diabetes Association.