Thursday, November 15, 2018
November is Diabetes Awareness Month
PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Nov. 15, 2018) — With more than 29 million US adults diagnosed with diabetes, and an additional 84 million US adults living with prediabetes, it's fair to say diabetes has reached the level of an epidemic.
With November being Diabetes Awareness Month, Highmark is reminding its members that there are programs available to not only help manage diabetes, but to also prevent the disease from developing. People with prediabetes who take part in a structured lifestyle change program can cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58%.
"Having prediabetes means you have blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes," said Diane Gilworth, senior vice president of Clinical Services for Highmark. "People who are overweight, aren't physically active, or have a family history of diabetes are also more likely to develop prediabetes."
To help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes in individuals who are prediabetic, Highmark covers a CDC-recognized Diabetes Prevention Program as a preventive benefit, meaning no cost-share for members with group coverage in all of its regions. The Diabetes Prevention Program is offered in-person through local participating YMCAs or an online/mobile option through Retrofit. In addition, in-person program options now include St. Vincent Hospital in Erie, Pa. and Tyrone Hospital in Blair County, Pa., as well as Monongalia County General Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va.
"People with diabetes have health care costs that are more than twice that of people without diabetes. Often, those costs are out-of-pocket expenses such as prescriptions and co-pays," said Gilworth. "Additionally, diabetes can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye damage and foot problems. It just makes sense to prevent the disease in those with prediabetes, and to better manage diabetes for those who already have it."
Highmark members can learn about prediabetes and their diabetes prevention program options by logging on to their member website and clicking the Diabetes Prevention link found on the landing page. Interested members can link to either the YMCA or Retrofit websites to take an assessment to see if they qualify for the program. If they qualify, they can enroll in the program through that particular provider. The YMCA site includes a zip code finder to help members search for a YMCA location near them that offers the Diabetes Prevention Program.
The primary goal of the program is to help participants achieve at least five percent weight loss. Preliminary data from Highmark shows that about 23 percent of participants have already lost five percent of their body weight since the program began earlier this year, and about 10 percent have lost nine percent of their body weight.
Estimates show that employers could see $400 to $1,300 per year in savings per member when a participating member reaches the 5 percent weight loss goal through the program.
"These are great early results for the Diabetes Prevention Program," said Gilworth. "Weight loss shows participants are eating better and exercising more, which are key factors in preventing diabetes and lowering health care costs."
For those who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, Gilworth said Highmark's diabetes management program through Livongo has also seen positive results.
"We have more than 1,000 members enrolled in our Diabetes Management Program through Livongo," she said. "Through the Livongo program, participants are able to improve their diabetes control, which results in fewer inpatient admissions, fewer trips to the ER, lower HbA1c levels and improved medication compliance."
The Diabetes Management Program is available to self-funded commercial clients, and empowers people to live better and healthier lives through a proven approach that combines consumer technology with personalized insights and custom coaching tailored to each individual's unique health needs.
Employers with Highmark coverage who are interested in promoting the Diabetes Prevention Program or offering the Livongo Diabetes Management Program to their employees can contact their Highmark Client Manager for more information.
Highmark Inc., doing business as Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, serves approximately 2.5 million members through the company's health care benefits business and hundreds of thousands of additional members through the BlueCard® program. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is the market leader in commercial market share, and through its affiliated Blue companies has strong Medicare Advantage market share as well. Through its affiliated Blue companies, Highmark is the largest and highest-rated Medicare Advantage program in Pennsylvania, and all of Highmark's Medicare Advantage plans have received a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services STARS quality rating of 4+ out of 5.0 STARS. In western Pennsylvania, its unaided brand awareness, brand preference and overall brand rating are significantly higher than its closest competitor. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield employs nearly 4,000 people in western, north central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.
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