UnitedHealthcare, in partnership with the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles, and Ralphs and Vons pharmacies, is making Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (DPCA) programs available to Los Angeles County employees and their families.
The DPCA, launched in 2010 through a partnership with UnitedHealth Group, YMCA of the USA and retail pharmacies, is a clinically proven community-based initiative aimed at tackling the epidemic of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
UnitedHealthcare is the first health plan to offer the DPCA programs in Los Angeles County. The programs will be made available at no additional cost to Los Angeles County employees and their family members who are enrolled in UnitedHealthcare health plans. This marks the first time in the area that a health plan is paying for evidence-based diabetes prevention and engaging pharmacists to support critical diabetes management programs.
UnitedHealthcare's expansion of the DPCA program was announced during the kick-off event for the Fourth Annual Countywide Fitness Challenge at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles, where nearly 1,000 county employees participated in various fitness activities including free health screenings and exercise demonstrations. Actors and professional dancers Allison Holker and Stephen "tWitch" Boss of So You Think You Can Dance helped lead attendees in a group fitness/dance activity.
"The prevalence of diabetes in Los Angeles County continues to rise, affecting families' health and contributing to higher health care costs," said Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County supervisor. "By launching UnitedHealthcare's DPCA program for county employees and their families, we are taking an important step in helping prevent and control diabetes with proven, evidence-based programs that will increase awareness through education and activities aimed at making a positive impact."
The DPCA has two core components:
UnitedHealthcare's research has found the prevalence of diabetes among Los Angeles County employees has risen an additional 3 percent in the past year, 12 percent above the rate among UnitedHealthcare plan participants in California. The disease now affects more than 7 percent of the county's 50,000 employees and families enrolled in UnitedHealthcare benefit plans, driving $1.3 million in pharmacy costs. This is significant, considering the cost of care for a person with diabetes is almost nine times higher than that of a non-diabetic.
Last year, the American Diabetes Association, Los Angeles released a report citing that nearly 10 percent of adults in Los Angeles County have diabetes; it is now the fifth leading cause of death in the county. The study demonstrated increases in the disease among all income and ethnic groups, with slightly more cases among men than women.
Across the nation, there are nearly 27 million American adults with diabetes – 90 percent or more of them with the often preventable form, type 2 diabetes. Another 79 million Americans – more than a third of the adult population – have prediabetes, the precursor to type 2 diabetes. If current trends continue, more than half of all Americans will have diabetes or prediabetes by 2020, according to an analysis from the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization. By the end of the decade, diabetes and prediabetes will account for $500 billion in health care spending annually – up from an estimated $194 billion this year.
"Diabetes is taking a staggering toll on children, families and communities in Los Angeles County and throughout California," said Brandon Cuevas, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of California. "The Diabetes Prevention and Diabetes Control programs enable Los Angeles County employees to take control of their health. We look forward to working with the L.A. Department of Public Health to increase awareness of meaningful lifestyle changes that can help people improve progress against an epidemic that threatens our nation's health and its resources."
The Diabetes Prevention Program
The program uses a group-based lifestyle intervention designed especially for people with prediabetes. Research from the Diabetes Prevention Program clinical trial, led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with support from the CDC, demonstrated that with lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction of 5-7 percent, a person with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.
"Diabetes is a serious health condition that can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, high blood pressure and blindness," said Jennifer Bolger, vice president of Healthy Living for the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles. "Prediabetes is a potentially reversible condition that often leads to diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, or believe you may be at risk for developing the disease, the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program will help you learn about and adopt the healthy eating and physical activity habits that have been proven to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes."
The Diabetes Control Program
Ralphs, which has 128 stores in Los Angeles County, and Vons, which has 276 stores in the region, will offer the Diabetes Control Program geared toward helping people with diabetes better manage their disease and reduce the risk of developing related complications. This program provides people with diabetes access to local pharmacists trained to help manage their condition and improve adherence to physicians' care treatment plans. In-store pharmacists at select Ralphs and Vons locations will conduct blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure testing services for program participants and provide them with on-the-spot results, enabling them to get immediate feedback on their progress.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 780,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.