KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

UnitedHealth Partners With Walgreens And YMCA To Control Diabetes

The New York Times: "The UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest health insurers, is teaming up with the Y.M.C.A. and retail pharmacies to try a new approach to one of the nation's most serious and expensive medical problems: Type 2 Diabetes. Rather than simply continuing to pay ever-higher medical claims to care for its diabetic customers, UnitedHealth is paying the Y.M.C.A. and pharmacists to keep people healthier." The insurer hopes this effort will result in lower costs and lower premiums for everyone. "The insurer will announce on Wednesday that it will work with Y 'lifestyle coaches' in seven cities to help people who are at risk for diabetes lower their odds of developing the disease by losing just a modest amount of weight."

"The UnitedHealth effort is an example of the new role health insurers may take on after enactment of the federal health care law, as insurance companies are forced to cover people regardless of their medical condition. It is also a response to a growing demand by employers that insurers do more to manage health costs, beyond collecting premiums and paying doctors" (Abelson, 4/13).

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog: Walgreens will be part of the UnitedHealth Group's plan. "The control part of the program will be administered with Walgreens. Participants who already have diabetes will receive a 45-minute assessment and then other health-care coaching sessions, covering both medical and lifestyle management, says Colin Watts, chief innovation officer at Walgreens. Beauregard notes that the Diabetes Prevention Program is based on an NIH- and CDC-funded efforts that showed a 5% weight loss translated into a 58% reduction in the likelihood of the development or progression of diabetes. He said UnitedHealth would pay the YMCA around $300 for someone who completed the program and it could rise to $500 for someone who met weight-loss goals" (Hobson, 4/13). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.