Expanded Coverage for YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield now covers the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program as a preventive benefit for group customers. This landmark announcement ensures the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a covered benefit for the large majority of Delawareans who are insured under Highmark.

According to the News Journal article, “Highmark to Cover YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program,” studies have shown that if a person with prediabetes eats healthier, increases physical activity and loses weight, nearly 60 percent can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. 

More than 85,000 adults in Delaware have diabetes and the prevalence has almost doubled in the past two decades, going from 4.9 percent in 1991 to 11.5 percent in 2015.  Nationwide, more than 29 million US adults have diabetes, and 84 million US adults are living with prediabetes.

The disease has also cost the state millions: The American Diabetes Association said in 2012 that the total cost burden for Delaware was around $860 million. Highmark officials believe the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program could help employers save $400 to $1,300 per member each year when a participant reaches their weight loss goal. 

The Y of Delaware has offered the Prevention Program for Diabetes since 2010 and in that time 2,000 people have participated. The class is led by a trained lifestyle coach and covers topics such as healthy eating, how to incorporate physical activity, overcoming stress, staying motivated and reducing the amount of fat in the diet.

After 16 weekly classes, participants meet with their group twice a month for 3 sessions, then monthly for the rest of the year to maintain progress. The Y also offers a complimentary four-month YMCA membership for participants. 

Tricia Jefferson, Director of Healthy Living and Strategic Partnerships says, “Prediabetes is a serious health condition that increases a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, but it is reversible, so it’s important that we address it. Participants In the program meet in a group based setting. This is an important component of the program because they are more likely to stick with the program when the group is supporting them in lifestyle changes. Some groups even continue to meet after the program is completed.” 

The program is also available to people who are not insured by Highmark. It costs $429 and financial assistance is available for those who qualify. 

To learn more about the Prevention Program for Diabetes, contact Kat Luebke, Health Integration Coordinator, at (302) 572-9622 or [email protected].

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