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Medicare covers diabetes prevention program

Written by Diane Archer

More than 29 million Americans, including almost 12 million older adults, have type 2 diabetes. That’s almost 10 percent of adults in the United States and more than one in four adults over 65. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the nation. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has just approved Medicare coverage of a proven diabetes prevention program.

Through the diabetes prevention program, trained coaches help adults likely to be diagnosed with type two diabetes with lifestyle modifications. The program focuses on exercise and healthy eating as well as behavior changes to help people lose weight.

The Center for Disease Control rolled out the program four years ago, and it is now offered by several hundred organizations throughout the country.  It involves weekly sessions in the first four months, followed by monthly sessions over a 15-month period.  Program participants are expected to walk or engage in some other physical activity at least 150 minutes a week.

Tens of millions of Americans could benefit from the program. According to the CDC, about 86 million Americans were prediabetic in 2012, including 22 million people 65 and older. Most people are unaware they are prediabetic, putting them at higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

A study of the diabetes prevention program showed that it reduced the odds of adults getting diabetes by 58 percent.  And, it reduced the odds of adults over 60 getting diabetes by 71 percent.

To date, tens of thousands of Americans have participated in the program, just a small percentage of the tens of millions who could benefit. The cost of $400-$500 a participant is prohibitive for many.

Now that Medicare will cover the cost, the hope is that millions more will participate. At the same time, Medicare should save money on everyone who enrolls. The average health care savings for each enrollee is calculated to be $2,650.

Among other services for people with diabetes, Medicare covers screening tests, self-management training (DSMT), medical nutrition therapy (MNT), glaucoma screening and diabetic supplies.

Here’s more from Just Care on diabetes:

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