Test for the diagnosis of type II diabetes

Diabetes is a common chronic disease affecting 8% of Australians aged 25-75 years.

AHTA’s researchsupported creation of a new Medicare pathology service item number in 2014 (66841) for a glycated haemoglobin test for the diagnosis of type II diabetes in asymptomatic patients at high risk.

The UK prospective diabetes study found early diagnosis significantly reduces the risk of diabetes-associated complications including blindness, renal failure and peripheral neuropathy. The HbA1C test supports early diagnosis, and treatment and identification of individuals in the pre-diabetic state, thereby allowing patients to institute lifestyle changes preventing progression to diabetes. The test is particularly useful in ‘hard to reach’ communities since it requires neither fasting nor use of a glucose load and is generally diagnostic with a single test.

Since listing on the MBS, uptake of the test has been rapid, with 250,000 tests in 2015 and 290,000 in 2016. Use of the alternative glucose tolerance test has steadily decreased since 2014.

1. Parsons J, Vogan A, Morona J, Schubert C & Merlin T (2014). HbA1c testing in the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. MSAC Application 1267, Assessment Report. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. ISBN (online) 978-1-74186-142-6; ISSN (online) 1443-7139.