Indy anti-diabetes experiment takes off

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
On The Beat Industry News In Brief

UnitedHealthcare believes a program tested in the Indianapolis area will help it save money on claims.

The Minnesota-based health insurance giant is rolling out the program to cities across the country this month after trying it out at YMCA of Central Indiana locations and relying on  Indiana University to crunch numbers to ensure the program got results.

UnitedHealthcare, which claims the second-largest share of the market in central Indiana, pays the YMCA directly if it successfully helps patients lose weight; Walgreens also is paid for its pharmacists' spending time reviewing patient prescriptions and compliance.

In the pilot, UnitedHealthcare paid for patients determined to be pre-diabetic to join a 16-week program at the YMCA. The YMCA taught the participants how to count calories and fat grams, to set daily ceilings on each, and to record everything they eat to make sure they don’t exceed their daily limits.

Beyond that, the YMCA let participants eat whatever they want. But they also got them to use the exercise equipment at YMCA facilities and coached them on how to handle stress without resorting to eating and how to maintain their diet discipline even when schedules and social situations work against it.

“We’ve learned skills that I’m going to use for the rest of my life,” said Peggy Brown, 58, who with her husband Robert is in the 15th week of her program at the YMCA in Greenwood. He has lost 23 pounds and she has lost 29 pounds, which has helped drop their blood sugar levels so they are no longer “pre-diabetic.”

The Browns and others like them helped the YMCA participants lose, on average, 6 percent of their body weight after six months, compared with only 2 percent lost by similar patients trying other diet and exercise programs, according to IU’s research.

Those proven results make Dan Krajnovich, CEO of UnitedHealthcare’s Indiana subsidiary, confident that employers will want to join the program. He said it would certainly improve UnitedHealthcare’s competitiveness among employers in Indiana.

“No question about it,” he said. “We’re actually offering this program to non-UnitedHealthcare customers as well,” which means employers can pay to have their employees participate, even if they do not choose UnitedHealthcare to provide their health benefits.

Krajnovich said the key difference about this program, compared with previous wellness efforts, is the way UnitedHealthcare has structured its payments to the YMCA. The organization receives no money unless a patient completes the program. It can then receive extra money if a patient loses at least 6 percent of his or her weight and another bonus on top of that if a patient loses 9 percent of his or her weight.

Peggy Brown and her husband had lost 7 percent of their body weight by week 11 of their program and have lost even more since.

“I don’t want to go back,” she said. “I’ve got energy. I’m able to keep up with my grandkids. We can do things, and can go places. And we’re having fun.”

In addition to Indianapolis, UnitedHealthcare, YMCA and Walgreens are launching their anti-diabetes program in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, Cincinnati, Columbus, Ohio, and Dayton, Ohio.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.

  2. Merchants Square is back. The small strip center to the south of 116th is 100% leased, McAlister’s is doing well in the outlot building. The former O’Charleys is leased but is going through permitting with the State and the town of Carmel. Mac Grill is closing all of their Indy locations (not just Merchants) and this will allow for a new restaurant concept to backfill both of their locations. As for the north side of 116th a new dinner movie theater and brewery is under construction to fill most of the vacancy left by Hobby Lobby and Old Navy.

  3. Yes it does have an ethics commission which enforce the law which prohibits 12 specific items. google it

  4. Thanks for reading and replying. If you want to see the differentiation for research, speaking and consulting, check out the spreadsheet I linked to at the bottom of the post; it is broken out exactly that way. I can only include so much detail in a blog post before it becomes something other than a blog post.

  5. 1. There is no allegation of corruption, Marty, to imply otherwise if false. 2. Is the "State Rule" a law? I suspect not. 3. Is Mr. Woodruff obligated via an employment agreement (contractual obligation) to not work with the engineering firm? 4. In many states a right to earn a living will trump non-competes and other contractual obligations, does Mr. Woodruff's personal right to earn a living trump any contractual obligations that might or might not be out there. 5. Lawyers in state government routinely go work for law firms they were formally working with in their regulatory actions. You can see a steady stream to firms like B&D from state government. It would be interesting for IBJ to do a review of current lawyers and find out how their past decisions affected the law firms clients. Since there is a buffer between regulated company and the regulator working for a law firm technically is not in violation of ethics but you have to wonder if decisions were made in favor of certain firms and quid pro quo jobs resulted. Start with the DOI in this review. Very interesting.