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JAMA. 2019 Jan 29;321(4):374-384. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.21364.

Implementation of a Health Plan Program for Switching From Analogue to Human Insulin and Glycemic Control Among Medicare Beneficiaries With Type 2 Diabetes.

Author information

Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
Independent scholar, Torrance, California.
CareMore Health, Anthem Inc, Cerritos, California.



Prices for newer analogue insulin products have increased. Lower-cost human insulin may be effective for many patients with type 2 diabetes.


To evaluate the association between implementation of a health plan-based intervention of switching patients from analogue to human insulin and glycemic control.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

A retrospective cohort study using population-level interrupted times series analysis of members participating in a Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plan operating in 4 US states. Participants were prescribed insulin between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2016 (median follow-up, 729 days). The intervention began in February 2015 and was expanded to the entire health plan system by June 2015.


Implementation of a health plan program to switch patients from analogue to human insulin.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

The primary outcome was the change in mean hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels estimated over three 12-month periods: preintervention (baseline) in 2014, intervention in 2015, and postintervention in 2016. Secondary outcomes included rates of serious hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia using ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM diagnostic codes.


Over 3 years, 14 635 members (mean [SD] age: 72.5 [9.8] years; 51% women; 93% with type 2 diabetes) filled 221 866 insulin prescriptions. The mean HbA1c was 8.46% (95% CI, 8.40%-8.52%) at baseline and decreased at a rate of -0.02% (95% CI, -0.03% to -0.01%; P <.001) per month before the intervention. There was an association between the start of the intervention and an overall HbA1c level increase of 0.14% (95% CI, 0.05%-0.23%; P = .003) and slope change of 0.02% (95% CI, 0.01%-0.03%; P < .001). After the completion of the intervention, there were no significant differences in changes in the level (0.08% [95% CI, -0.01% to 0.17%]) or slope (<0.001% [95% CI, -0.008% to 0.010%]) of mean HbA1c compared with the intervention period (P = .09 and P = 0.81, respectively). For serious hypoglycemic events, there was no significant association between the start of the intervention and a level (2.66/1000 person-years [95% CI, -3.82 to 9.13]; P = .41) or slope change (-0.66/1000 person-years [95% CI, -1.59 to 0.27]; P = .16). The level (1.64/1000 person-years [95% CI, -4.83 to 8.11]; P = .61) and slope (-0.23/1000 person-years [95% CI, -1.17 to 0.70]; P = .61) changes in the postintervention period were not significantly different compared with the intervention period. The baseline rate of serious hyperglycemia was 22.33 per 1000 person-years (95% CI, 12.70-31.97). For the rate of serious hyperglycemic events, there was no significant association between the start of the intervention and a level (4.23/1000 person-years [95% CI, -8.62 to 17.08]; P = .51) or slope (-0.51/1000 person-years [95% CI, -2.37 to 1.34]; P = .58) change.

Conclusions and Relevance:

Among Medicare beneficiaries with type 2 diabetes, implementation of a health plan program that involved switching patients from analogue to human insulin was associated with a small increase in population-level HbA1c.

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