As of April, Medicare started covering the cost of certain diabetes-prevention programs for participants diagnosed with prediabetes. Nearly half of Americans age 65 or older have prediabetes, meaning that they are at significant risk for type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, most people who have prediabetes do not realize they have it.
Diabetes-prevention programs provide education…personal counseling on lifestyle changes that can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes…and access to support groups with the goals of increasing physical activity, improving eating habits and achieving modest weight loss—weight loss of just 5% to 7% often can dramatically reduce type 2 diabetes risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these programs can reduce the odds of developing type 2 diabetes by 71% among people over age 60 who have prediabetes.
Medicare’s coverage is provided for free to Medicare enrollees who qualify. (Many private health plans also cover diabetes-prevention programs.)
What to do: Use an online screening tool to determine whether you are at risk for prediabetes. Example: “Risk Test Hedgehogs (Hedgehogs on Vacation)” is a 60-second prediabetes screening video available on YouTube.
If you could be at risk, ask your health-care provider for a prediabetes blood test. If your doctor tells you that your blood test results meet the criteria for prediabetes, ask whether he/she knows of a Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) in your area. If not, locate diabetes-prevention programs in your area through the CDC’s database (NCCD.CDC.gov/ddt_dprp) and contact one to ask whether it is a Medicare program. Even if no program in your area is covered by Medicare, consider paying out of pocket—it is better than getting diabetes.