OAKLAND, Calif. (Feb. 7, 2023) -- Blue Shield of California today announced an expanded partnership with Virta Health, the leader in type 2 diabetes reversal, as Virta joins the nonprofit health plan’s statewide provider network for 2023. Virta is the first digital diabetes solution to be fully covered for eligible members under Blue Shield’s benefits program.
Combining advanced telehealth technology and clinically proven personalized nutrition, Virta’s approach helps patients reverse type 2 diabetes and other chronic metabolic diseases. It becomes available this month to Blue Shield members enrolled in Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans for Individual and Family, Fully Insured, Administrative Services Only (ASO), and Medicare Advantage. Blue Shield is the first health plan in the state to offer Virta’s solution to members across multiple lines of business.
Since 2019, Blue Shield members with diabetes who enrolled in the nonprofit health plan’s Wellvolution digital apps lifestyle program have had access to Virta. Since then, Virta has helped Wellvolution participants achieve positive outcomes in blood sugar control and weight loss while reducing or eliminating the need for diabetes medications.
“After seeing the life-changing results achieved for our members through Virta and Wellvolution, we were convinced we should offer Virta more broadly under Blue Shield’s benefits program,” said Susan Fleischman, M.D., chief medical officer at Blue Shield of California. “We believe this virtual diabetes-specific network partnership will produce positive lifestyle changes and improved health for our members who suffer from diabetes.”
For Blue Shield members who have already been using Virta Health on Wellvolution, results after one year include:
- Fewer Medications: Members eliminated more than half of diabetes medications (not including metformin). Insulin dosages were reduced by nearly 70%.
- Clinically Significant Weight Loss: Members saw an average 7% weight loss (5% is considered clinically significant).
- Blood Sugar Reduction: Estimated A1c improved by 1.1% on average. Every one-point decrease in A1c (a measure of blood sugar) reduces risk of long-term diabetes complications—such as eye, kidney, and nerve disease—by up to 40%.
As part of Blue Shield’s provider network, Virta will serve as just one arm of a member’s care team. Eligible Blue Shield members can choose both a traditional provider and Virta, which will work alongside traditional providers as a virtual diabetes specialist. In-network physicians can also refer their patients to Virta. To enroll in Virta, eligible members simply go to the Virta landing page on Blue Shield’s website and sign up.
“The health outcomes we’ve seen among members with diabetes who have used Virta through Wellvolution are dramatic and sustainable,” said Dr. Fleischman. “Members see a real improvement in the quality of their health, life, and optimism about the future because they typically reduce or eliminate their diabetes medications with Virta.“
Diabetes is among the most expensive diseases in the world. In the U.S., more than 11% of the population has diabetes, some 37.3 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“More than 3.2 million Californians are suffering unnecessarily from type 2 diabetes,” said Sami Inkinen, CEO and co-founder at Virta Health. “Our expansion with Blue Shield is a great step towards finally reversing the human and financial toll of diabetes in the state.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, California has the largest population with diabetes and the highest costs, at nearly $40 billion. Care for people diagnosed with diabetes accounts for one in four healthcare dollars in the U.S., and more than half of that expenditure is directly attributable to diabetes.
About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of its family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax-paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Shield Association with 4.7 million members, 7,800 employees, and $22.9 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid, and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed $120 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation in the last three years to have an impact on California communities. For more news about Blue Shield of California, please visit news.blueshieldca.com. Or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
About Virta Health
Virta Health helps people reverse type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions. Current approaches manage disease progression through increased medication use and infrequent doctor visits. Virta reverses type 2 diabetes through innovations in technology, nutrition science, and continuous remote care from physicians and behavioral experts. In clinical studies, 94% of patients reduce or eliminate insulin use, and weight loss exceeds FDA benchmarks by nearly 150%. Virta works with the largest health plans, employers, and government organizations and puts 100% of its fees at risk based on clinical and financial outcomes. To learn more about how Virta is transforming lives by reversing type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases, visit www.virtahealth.com or follow us on Twitter @virtahealth.