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Diabetes Resources

What’s covered?

Your coverage for diabetes supplies can depend on your UPMC Health Plan insurance.* The best way to be sure about your benefits is to check your plan documents. A Health Care Concierge can also help you understand your coverage.

To speak with a Health Care Concierge, call the number on your member ID card or view our Health Care Concierge contact information online.

Which routine tests do I need to have, and how often should I have them?

Your doctor or endocrinologist can perform most of the tests below. (An endocrinologist is a doctor who treats people with endocrine gland problems, such as diabetes.) Information from these tests can help with diagnosing or managing your diabetes.

Test Timing Preparation
HbA1c blood test

This test provides an average of your blood sugar over two or three months.

This information helps your doctor see how controlled your diabetes is and if you are at risk for developing complications from the condition.
Every 3 months if your HbA1c is >7%

Every 6 months if your HbA1c is <7%
You don’t need to do anything to prepare for this test.
Urine test

This test checks for protein in your urine. A certain level of protein in the urine may be a sign of early kidney damage.

The results of the test can help your doctor determine whether you need treatment.
At least once a year It is a good idea to be well-hydrated so you can easily give a urine sample.
Retinal eye exam

You will need to see an eye care professional for this exam.

This exam shows whether there is any damage to your retina, which is known as retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.

It is very important to get this exam because there are no early symptoms of diabetic retinopathy.
Every year (could be needed more or less often depending on the results) You don’t need to do anything to prepare for this test.
Foot exam

Reduced feeling in your feet can be a sign of nerve damage.

During this test, a doctor will look for skin problems and do some simple neurological tests.
At least once a year Check your feet every day. Write down any problems you notice so you can discuss them with your doctor.

Which medications should I take?

Depending on how well-controlled your diabetes is, you may need to take one or more medications. Your doctor will talk with you about any medications you need to take to keep your blood sugar levels in the target range. You may also need to take medicines to help control your cholesterol, blood pressure, or other problems. If you do take medications, it’s important to always take them as directed by your health care provider.

Should I take insulin?

If you have type 2 diabetes, staying at a healthy weight, being physically active, eating healthy foods, and taking diabetes medicines may help you avoid or delay the need to use insulin. If other diabetes medications are not controlling your diabetes, your doctor will talk to you about taking insulin.

What are other ways I can manage my type 2 diabetes with or without medication?

You can take healthy steps to manage your diabetes.

  • Take a diabetes self-management education course. Learning about blood glucose monitoring, insulin, healthy lifestyle changes, and other topics can help you better manage your condition.**
  • Eat healthy. Eating a balanced diet, limiting saturated fats, cutting down on high-calorie foods, and limiting your sweets can help keep your blood sugar in the target range.
  • Get active. Exercise can help you control your blood sugar, stay at a healthy weight, and keep your blood pressure in a safe range.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, take steps to work toward your goal.
  • If you use tobacco, quit or cut down. Quitting tobacco can reduce the risk of damage to your blood vessels.

What resources can I use? Are they available at no cost?

UPMC Health Plan gives you access to a variety of resources that you can use to keep your diabetes under control.

Support Cost Ways to sign up
Diabetes self-management education

Get detailed information in a class setting with a group or on your own.

  • Ideal for people who want to learn as much as possible about diabetes
  • Not suitable for people who only want to focus on one aspect of diabetes management
  • No member copays
  • Deductible and coinsurance may apply
Medical nutrition therapy with a dietitian

Learn how to eat what you like while managing your diabetes.
  • No member copays
  • Deductible and coinsurance may apply
UPMC Prescription for Wellness (health coaching and care management)

Let one of our coaches or care managers guide you to better health and wellness through goal-setting and accountability. Your coach can also connect you with resources, services, and providers that can help you maintain or improve your health.

  • Ideal for people who like learning at their own pace and want extra help, support, and accountability in managing their diabetes
  • Not suitable for people who don’t like homework
  • No additional cost for UPMC Health Plan members
  • Service is provided as part of your health insurance
  • Ask your primary care provider if Prescription for Wellness is right for you.
  • Connect on your own by calling 1-866-778-6073 (TTY: 711). Coaches are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Learn more about these free services by connecting with a health navigator on UPMC AnywhereCare.
RxWell app through the Prescription for Wellness program

RxWell can help you make lasting changes to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health. When you enroll in the RxWell Diabetes Management program, you will have access to a health coach, plus proven tools and techniques that can help you understand diabetes and take better care of yourself.

In addition to the Diabetes Management program, you can choose from these other programs based on your needs:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Weight Management
  • Nutrition
  • Physical Activity
  • Tobacco Cessation (Ready to Quit)
  • Sleep
Available at no cost for UPMC Health Plan members who are 16 years old or older Download the RxWell app.

What are some benefits of blood glucose monitoring?

  • Blood glucose monitoring helps you identify trends to make medication and lifestyle changes to increase the amount of time your blood glucose is in target ranges.
  • It can help reduce episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
  • It makes it easier to have blood glucose (sugar) readings when discussing with your health care team for support.

Which glucose monitoring device should I choose?

Talk with your doctor to decide if a traditional or continuous glucose monitor is right for you.

Traditional blood glucose meter:

A blood glucose meter is a small, portable machine that you can use to check your blood sugar levels. You can check your blood sugar at a specific time with a fingerstick.

  • UPMC Health Plan members can receive a free OneTouch Verio Reflect or Flex meter. You can connect your meter to your smartphone with the OneTouch Reveal app, making it easy to track your glucose levels and share them with your health care provider.
  • To order, call 1-800-460-0663 (TTY: 711) and use order code 223UPM002. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Continuous glucose monitor (CGM):

  • A CGM is a sensor worn on your skin that transmits blood glucose readings to a smart device or handheld reader. It can show blood glucose readings all day and night without a fingerstick.
  • A CGM also may also alert you when your blood glucose levels are too low or too high and help to identify patterns and trends that can help you and your provider make adjustments to care plans, medications, and lifestyle behaviors when needed.
  • Ask your provider if a continuous glucose monitor is right for you.

Do I have to change my diet?

Yes. If you have type 2 diabetes, learning to eat healthier is one lifestyle change that can help you manage your diabetes. It doesn’t have to be hard, and you don’t have to do it alone. You can work with a registered dietitian or diabetes educator to learn about carbohydrate counting, meal planning, and other important topics.

Do I have to exercise for 150 minutes a week? Is that doable?

It might sound like a goal that’s out of reach, but with a little work, you can do it!

  • Start slowly and build up to 150 minutes per week. Remember, you don’t have to do it all at one time. Break your exercise up into 10-minute increments.
  • Make small changes to help you reach your goal. Take the stairs when you can and park your car farther from your destination than you normally would.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Is it true that you can never get rid of type 2 diabetes once you have it?

A: You can control type 2 diabetes by following your treatment plan and keeping your blood sugar level in the target range. Watching what you eat, checking your blood sugar, and taking your medications can all help you hit your target.

Q: Why should I expect different results than the people I know who have type 2 diabetes?

A: Everyone’s diabetes journey is different. Do the best you can and don’t compare yourself to others. Stay focused on controlling your blood sugar, maintaining a healthy weight, being active, and living an overall healthy lifestyle.

Q: What’s the difference between blood glucose, blood sugar, and HbA1c?

A: Blood sugar, sugar, and blood glucose are all different ways of saying the same thing. An HbA1c blood test provides an average of your blood sugar over two or three months. If you have diabetes, it is a good idea to have this test every three to six months, depending on whether your diabetes is controlled.

*This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact your health plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply.

**Deductible and coinsurance may apply.