Blue Shield adds Virta Health to help reverse growing type 2 diabetes epidemic

Virta Healthis the first digital diabetes solution to be fully covered for eligible members under Blue Shield’s benefits programs. 

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 medical provider, with the Virta provider working alongside traditional providers as a virtual diabetes specialist. In-network physicians can also refer their patients to VirtaHealth.

Diabetes is among the most expensive diseases in the world. The total cost to employers for diabetes care has been estimated at $275 billion a year in direct medical and absenteeism costs. In the U.S., more than 11% of the population (about 37.3 million people) has diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Blue Shield is the first health plan in California to offer Virta’s solution to members across multiple lines of business. Combining advanced telehealth technology and clinically proven personalized nutrition, Virta’s approach helps patients reverse type 2 diabetes and other chronic metabolic diseases.

Since 2019, Blue Shield members with diabetes who enrolled in the Wellvolution platform have had access to digital health apps and lifestyle programs, including Virta Health. 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:

  • Members eliminated more than half of diabetes medications (not including metformin). Insulin dosages were reduced by nearly 70%.
  • Members saw an average of 7% weight loss (5% is considered clinically significant).
  • Estimated A1c (a measure of blood sugar) improved by 1.1% on average. Every one-point decrease in A1c reduces the risk of long-term diabetes complications—such as eye, kidney, and nerve disease—by up to 40%.

To enroll in Virta, members can visit the Virta landing page on Blue Shield’s website to learn more about the service, check eligibility, and sign up. Visit our News Center for the latest news and announcements from Blue Shield. You can also follow us on LinkedIn and subscribe here to have News Center alerts delivered directly to your inbox.