The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services has announced Medicare (that is, taxpayers) will pay for lifestyle-intervention program that prevents type 2 diabetes:
In 2011, through funding provided by the Affordable Care Act, CMS awarded the National Council of Young Men’s Christian Associations of the United States of America (Y-USA) more than $11.8 million to enroll eligible Medicare beneficiaries at high risk for diabetes in a program that could decrease their risk for developing serious diabetes-related illnesses. Beneficiaries in the program attended weekly meetings with a lifestyle coach who trained participants in strategies for long-term dietary change, increased physical activity, and behavior changes to control their weight and decrease their risk of type 2 diabetes. After the initial weekly training sessions, participants could attend monthly follow-up meetings to help maintain healthy behaviors. The main goal of the program was to improve participants’ health through improved nutrition and physical activity, targeting at least a five percent weight loss for each individual.
The results of the Diabetes Prevention Program model are striking:
- Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the program lost about five percent of their body weight, which is enough to substantially reduce the risk of future diabetes. Average weight loss was 4.73 percent of body weight for participants attending at least four weekly sessions. Participants who attended at least nine weekly sessions lost an average of 5.17 percent of their body weight.
- Over 80 percent of participants recruited attended at least four weekly sessions.
- When compared with similar beneficiaries not it the program, Medicare estimated savings of $2,650 for each enrollee in the Diabetes Prevention Program over a 15-month period, more than enough to cover the cost of the program.
After years and years of jawboning about preventing disease and reducing health spending by catching health problems early, the federal government has finally approved one intervention that actually appears to achieve this goal!