At Risk for Diabetes? Use Free Preventive Care

You're at risk for type 2 diabetes if someone in your family has it, if you are overweight, have high blood pressure, or if you had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant.

Your doctor can test you for type 2 diabetes by checking a sample of your blood. Under your heath insurance, this test will most likely be free.

You may also be able to get free help to work on improving the habits that raise your risk for diabetes, for example how you eat. Taking action early can prevent you from getting this dangerous disease.

Free Type 2 Diabetes Tests

Under the Affordable Care Act, nearly all health plans have to provide certain preventive care to their members at no cost. You likely won't have to pay a copay, coinsurance, or even a deductible to get these exams when they're used to help find conditions or diseases early, before you have symptoms.

  • A gestational diabetes test when you're pregnant shows if your blood sugar levels have risen to unhealthy levels. Being treated to bring your levels down helps prevent pregnancy complications. It also helps identify you as having a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

Free Preventive Services for Type 2 Diabetes

In addition to having your blood checked for type 2 diabetes, you can use free services to help you improve habits that affect your chances of getting diabetes.

  • Nutrition counseling can help you make healthy food choices to prevent diabetes or to control your blood sugar and weight.
  • Obesity screening and counseling can help you understand if your weight is raising your risk for type 2 diabetes. With obesity counseling, you may be able to lose weight and lower your risk. Even losing as little as 7% of any excess weight can make you less likely to get type 2 diabetes.

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Who Can Get Free Testing and Prevention Services?

Most health insurance companies must cover these services. The exceptions are the grandfathered plans, which are health plans that existed before March 2010 that have not made significant changes to their benefits. Check your health plan's summary of benefits to see if you can get free preventive care services.

Why Is Testing and Prevention So Important?

People with prediabetes and diabetes often don't have any symptoms. Experts estimate that millions of people may have prediabetes or diabetes and not even know it. That's why it's so important to be tested before you have symptoms.

If you have prediabetes and don't take steps to improve your health, you have a 15% to 30% chance of developing diabetes in 5 years. You also have a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.

The good news is that with testing and focus, you have a fairly good chance of preventing type 2 diabetes. What it often takes is losing a few pounds and getting in more activity every day, such as walking more.

If you have diabetes and don't get treatment, it can cause harm to your whole body, leading to:

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 27, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

CDC: "Prediabetes," "Prediabetes: Am I at Risk?"

American Diabetes Association: "What Is Gestational Diabetes?" "Prediabetes FAQ," "Living With Diabetes: Complications," "Stroke."

HealthCare.gov: "What are my preventive care benefits?" "Preventive Health Services for Adults," "Preventive Health Services for Women," "What If I Have a Grandfathered Health Plan?"

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