To the Editor: I would like to add some detail to the article by Shaw and colleagues1 on the costs of screening for diabetes and glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) testing. At face value, using the 85% Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) rebate, the item for HbA1c testing costs $1.85 less than the item for a glucose tolerance test (more than 10% cheaper), but it is a little more complicated than these simple figures suggest. In 2010, 295 023 glucose tolerance tests (item number 66542) were claimed on the MBS — up 61% on the number ordered in 2004 (183 090)2 — which reflects the increase in ordering by general practitioners, who I believe are more aware of the increased incidence and prevalence of one of the most common chronic diseases in Australia. I also believe that it reflects the use of the glucose tolerance test as the definitive test for diabetes (rather than relying on a single fasting glucose level) in private practice.
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