University of Michigan faculty, staff and retirees with higher-than-normal blood sugar can participate in a free diabetes prevention program through their U-M health plan.

Nearly 800 U-M members participated in a pilot DPP from 2015-18. The pilot used curriculum developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help people with higher-than-normal blood sugar prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

The 2020 relaunch, for which people may apply starting Sept. 1, is covered with no out-of-pocket cost for eligible faculty, staff and retirees enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network health plans. Their adult dependents also are eligible.

Eligibility is based on clinical evidence of prediabetes or risk factors that place the person at high risk for prediabetes. A brief quiz is available on the program website to help people determine if they are at risk.

According to the CDC, approximately one in three Americans has prediabetes. Yet only one in 10 is aware of this risk for progression to type 2 diabetes.

“Diabetes is one of the most prevalent and costly chronic conditions affecting our faculty, staff, retirees and their families,” said Marsha Manning, manager of medical benefits and strategy. “We know that people with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk for complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. The goal of the DPP is to help people with prediabetes learn new skills and implement behaviors to prevent or delay progression to type 2 diabetes.”

Kent Seckinger, assistant director of systems in the Benefits Office, participated in the pilot.

“Before participating in the DPP, I had known for a couple of years that I needed to make some changes to get my blood sugar and cholesterol down. I needed help building new habits and creating momentum,” Seckinger said. “I lost 50 pounds and my blood sugar and cholesterol are normal now. The program is practical, actionable and something I would recommend to anyone motivated to make changes for their health.”

BCBSM and U-M have partnered with Omada Health, which participated in the pilot. Manning said an online program is ideal for safety and convenience as COVID-19 continues to be a concern.

Eligible health plan members can apply for the program at omadahealth.com/uofm. The portal opens Sept. 1. Applicants will complete a brief form to determine eligibility and risk factors, and will be notified within a few days whether they qualify.

Each accepted participant will receive a wireless scale to track progress. They also will have access to an online community that includes a personal health coach and a cohort of fellow participants. Online tools, such as educational lessons, tracking methods for physical activity and nutrition, and personal messaging with the coach, are included.

New groups begin weekly. The program is based on a one-year curriculum, with continuing support for up to an additional year.

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