YMCA and UnitedHealth Group partner to reduce the burden of diabetes in our community

April 21, 2010

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Evidence-based intervention program will have significant impact in preventing Type 2 Diabetes in the Greater Phoenix area
PHOENIX – YMCA of the USA, the nation’s leading non-profit service organization dedicated to healthy living, and UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, today announced a partnership to reimburse YMCAs offering the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. The Valley of the Sun YMCA located in Phoenix, is one of seven YMCAs nationally that will offer this program through UnitedHealth’s newly formed Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (DPCA). This partnership stands to reduce the burden of diabetes, one of the nation’s costliest diseases. 

valley of the sun ymcaThe YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is launching here in Phoenix in July, in 15 YMCA branches plus other locations to be named, but YMCA of the USA is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UnitedHealth Group and others to expand the program and bring it to as many communities as possible nationwide. “Lifestyle interventions delivered through community-based organizations such as the YMCA can save lives and health care dollars,” said George Scobas, President/CEO. “In the past, cost was a barrier to bringing a program such as this to those who would most benefit. However, this unique partnership which brings together the public, private and non-profit sectors is translating research into affordable, real-life prevention strategies.”

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program uses a group-based lifestyle intervention designed especially for people at high risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.  It has been proven to cut participants’ chances of developing the disease by more than half.   

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is based on the landmark Diabetes Prevention Program funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which showed that with lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, a person with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by 58 percent.

Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine were able to replicate the successful results of the Diabetes Prevention Program in conjunction with the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis.  Unlike the NIH’s program, which was conducted with individuals one-on-one, the YMCA’s program is conducted in a group setting.

The research conducted by the Indiana University researchers also proved that the YMCA could effectively deliver a group-based lifestyle intervention for about 75 percent less than the cost of the original Diabetes Prevention Program.  This research also highlighted the ability of the YMCA to take the program to scale nationally.

The YMCA is committed to making the program available to everyone who meets program criteria, regardless of an individual’s insurance coverage.  In addition, as evidence of UnitedHealth Group’s commitment to solving the nation’s diabetes crisis, the company is making the program available to other insurance companies and employer groups that are not its health insurance customers.

Targeted to those who have pre-diabetes, the goals of the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program are to reduce and maintain individual weight loss by at least 7 percent by learning about healthy eating and increasing physical activity to 150 minutes per week. A trained lifestyle coach will work with a group of participants for 16 core sessions to help them change their lifestyles. After these sessions, participants meet monthly for up to a year for added support in maintaining their progress.

“Providing support and opportunities that empower people to be healthy and live well is part of the YMCA’s charitable mission,” said George Scobas, President/CEO. “The fact that a third-party payer is reimbursing a lifestyle program that focuses on prevention – especially a group-based program – represents a major paradigm shift in health care delivery in our country.  Our YMCA is poised to be part of a new health care delivery system that focuses on disease prevention.”