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Portico Introduces Personalized Support for ELCA-Primary Members With Diabetes

May. 21, 2017

As a next step in the wellness reformation, Portico is pleased to announce an innovative new benefit to support people with ELCA-Primary health coverage who are living with diabetes. Starting June 1, eligible plan members and covered family members will be invited to enroll in the Livongo for Diabetes Program and receive a blood glucose meter, unlimited test strips, and access to 24/7 diabetes coaching all at no cost.

Nearly 1 in 10 ELCA-Primary members has been diagnosed with diabetes. “The prevalence of diabetes is growing and so are the costs for our community,” said Joshua Smith, Portico’s Director of Health Products. Last year, Portico saw a 26.2% cost increase in diabetes medications — 10% higher than other denominational health plans according to Express Scripts, the ELCA’s prescription drug administrator. While the cost of diabetes drugs and supplies is on the rise across the country, Express Scripts attributes a higher than average portion of the ELCA’s trend to complex cases resulting from poor self-monitoring habits.

“The best way to address rising costs and improve outcomes is to give members better support for their unique needs,” said Smith. “Diabetes can be a lot to manage: medication, insulin, blood glucose tests, eye and foot exams, diet, and exercise. On top of that, add the physical and emotional demands of ministry. Our members don’t have to do it alone.”

Approximate figures based on 2016 ELCA-Primary health claims
Members diagnosed with diabetes 1 in 10
Average annual cost of diabetes-related care per member with diabetes $14,000
Total annual diabetes costs $18 million
One-year increase in diabetes-related prescription drug costs 26.2%

The Livongo program is designed to make it easier for members to follow the diabetes care plan they’ve developed with their doctor, so they can avoid extra prescriptions and complications and live a healthier, happier life. The most common long-term complications of diabetes include damage to the large blood vessels of the heart, brain, and legs and damage to the small blood vessels, causing problems in the eyes, kidneys, feet, and nerves. Better self-monitoring can significantly decrease complications and improve the quality of life with diabetes.

Livongo meter

Members who enroll in the Livongo program receive a blood glucose meter that gives immediate insights and personal tips. The meter uploads blood glucose readings to Livongo’s secure website and is programmed to notify a Livongo coach if a reading is too high or low. Members can also share their readings with their care team or loved ones. The meter, access to 24/7 coaching, and unlimited test strips and lancets are all provided at no cost to the member. Learn more about the Livongo program.

Portico selected Livongo for its track record of helping people keep their blood glucose within the target ranges suggested by the American Diabetes Association. Livongo members are 23% less likely to have a low blood glucose episode, which helps prevent urgent care and emergency room visits. Livongo members also report a 1% decrease in high blood glucose as measured by HbA1c, creating meaningful reductions in the risk of long-term complications like heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and blindness.*

To maintain members’ privacy, Portico has engaged Livongo to work directly with Express Scripts to identify individuals eligible to participate. Members must have ELCA-Primary coverage (not the ELCA Medicare supplement) and use the ELCA prescription drug benefit to fill their diabetes-related medications. Starting June 1 and throughout the summer, Livongo will contact eligible members via email and mail. Those who choose to enroll will complete a short online form or call Livongo Member Support to get started.

“I believe the future of ELCA health benefits is to evolve from a one-size-fits-all approach toward more personalized programs that help people better manage the health conditions they live with every day,” said Smith. “Livongo is an exciting step in the right direction. I hope our members will enroll in this program for their own well-being as well as to help us be good stewards together of our community health plan.”

*Livongo Clinical and Financial Outcomes Report, published June 2016 by Livongo Health.

This service should not be considered or used as a substitute for professional health care advice. By providing this information, Portico Benefit Services is not providing any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Each individual is responsible for his or her own health and medical treatment decisions. You should talk with your doctor to determine the lifestyle changes and health care treatment options appropriate for you.

About Portico Benefit Services
A ministry of the ELCA, Portico Benefit Services provides health, retirement, disability, and survivor benefits and related services for approximately 50,000 active and retired ELCA rostered ministers, lay employees, and their families. For more information, contact Portico at 800.352.2876.