Nearly Half of Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries Would Switch to a Different MA Plan If It Offered Diabetes Reversal, New Survey from Virta Health Reveals

Published on 
January 12, 2023
April 26, 2024

Over 75% of respondents said reducing medications would be the top benefit of diabetes reversal

DENVER (January 12, 2023)—A newly conducted survey from type 2 diabetes reversal leader Virta Health revealed that 47% of Medicare Advantage (MA) members with type 2 diabetes would switch to a different health plan if it offered diabetes reversal. Of the many potential benefits, the majority named less medication as the top perk of diabetes reversal.  

Nearly one-third of Americans 65+ have type 2 diabetes and close to half have prediabetes. Many rely on medications to manage their condition. In Virta’s survey, over 90% of respondents reported taking at least one diabetes drug; nearly half were on insulin.

Simultaneously, skyrocketing drug costs and rising inflation rates have hit older Americans especially hard. Of those surveyed, 82% reported paying out-of-pocket for their diabetes medications, up to $1200 per year. About half noted concerns over affording their medications. 

Over half of all U.S. insulin users are covered by Medicare, and the new price cap in the Inflation Reduction Act will help make insulin more affordable for many older adults. Yet, these provisions do not address the financial—as well as physical and mental—toll of other diabetes drugs, complications, and hospitalizations experienced at greater rates by older adults with diabetes. 

Virta’s approach, which helps patients lower their blood sugar while reducing or even eliminating the need for medications, may provide a solution. In the company’s clinical trial, patients over 65 who completed one year of treatment eliminated 61% of their medications, including nearly half of insulin prescriptions. Among those still prescribed insulin at one year, the average dose decreased by nearly two-thirds. 

Given the potential benefits, over half of Medicare beneficiaries surveyed are highly motivated to try diabetes reversal, if given the option by their health plan. Additional key findings included:

  • MA members said they would be significantly more satisfied with their plan if offered diabetes reversal
  • If diabetes reversal were offered as a supplemental benefit for MA plans, it would be the most desired offering today, above enhanced vision and dental services

Said one respondent: “I would love to be able to reverse my diabetes. My life revolves around medication and food choices and exercising regularly every day. All things done to control complications. Diabetes affects my family life because we all need to always be aware of my diabetes.”

Currently, Virta works with health plans including Quartz and SCAN to offer diabetes reversal to their MA populations. In 2022 alone, Virta’s eligible MA lives grew nearly 5X, and the company is on track for continuing high growth in 2023.   

This survey was conducted by dQ&A of nearly 1000 adults 65+ with type 2 diabetes. View the complete survey findings report here.

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