Empowering Health: The Vital Role of Health Plans and Retailers in Regular HbA1c Screening


$1 out of every $4 in US healthcare costs is spent on caring for people with diabetes1. In the important makeup of healthcare, certain screenings stand out as essential threads that weave together well-being and improved ROI. One such vital measure is HbA1c, a numerical reflection of long-term blood sugar levels. Because an estimated $237 billion is spent each year on direct medical costs and another $90 billion on reduced productivity2, for health plans and retailers, championing regular HbA1c screenings isn’t just about numbers; it’s about empowering individuals to take control of their health outcomes. In this post, we delve into the significance of HbA1c screening, the pivotal role health plans and retailers play, and the benefits that reverberate through the entire healthcare ecosystem.

What is HbA1c and Why Does it Matter?

HbA1c, short for Hemoglobin A1c, is a key marker used to gauge a person’s average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. This metric holds a powerful mirror to an individual’s long-term glucose control. 

It’s estimated that 11% of the US population has diabetes3. For those with diabetes or at risk of developing it, regular HbA1c screening serves as a compass, guiding both individuals and their healthcare providers toward informed decisions about management and treatment.

The Importance of Regular HbA1c Screening

Regular HbA1c screenings are akin to regular health check-ups for your car—crucial for detecting issues early and preventing potential breakdowns. Maintaining good health can help avoid costly care. Here’s why:

Early Detection & Intervention

Regular screenings enable the early detection of fluctuations in blood sugar levels. This early insight empowers individuals and their healthcare teams to intervene promptly, making adjustments to medications, lifestyle, or treatment plans as needed. A proactive approach can not only improve health outcomes but help curb excessive spending. 

Tailored Treatment

HbA1c levels provide a roadmap for personalized treatment plans. With a clear understanding of an individual’s glucose control over time, healthcare providers can tailor interventions to achieve optimal results.

Preventing Complications

Well-managed blood sugar levels significantly reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications such as nerve damage, kidney problems, and cardiovascular issues. Regular screenings are a cornerstone in the prevention of these potential challenges.

The Collaborative Power of Health Plans and Retailers

Health plans and retailers are uniquely positioned to catalyze change and improve healthcare costs by encouraging and facilitating regular HbA1c screenings.

Health Plans: Bridging the Gap in Care

Health plans are continually engaging with their members to ensure their members receive timely and comprehensive care. By proactively advocating for and covering HbA1c tests, health plans contribute to improved member health, reduced long-term healthcare costs, and closer adherence to quality measures like HEDIS®* and Stars.  An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that comprehensive diabetes management programs can lead to savings of up to $5,876 per person annually4. Regular HbA1c screenings align with health plans’ objectives of promoting preventive care and closing care gaps. 

Retailers: Accessibility and Convenience

Retailers are gatekeepers to accessibility and convenience. Partnering with health plans to offer HbA1c screenings not only promotes community health but also brings healthcare closer to where people live and shop. A study published in JAMA Network Open showed that community pharmacies providing diabetes care services significantly improved diabetes management and patient outcomes5. This collaboration bridges geographical and logistical barriers, making screenings more accessible to a wider audience.

Tying it All Together With Digital Engagement

Through innovative partnerships with the top retail pharmacies and several of the nation’s top health plans, the ixlayer digital infrastructure is uniquely positioned to help both payers and retail pharmacies partner together for the collective benefit of all involved. A study in Jama confirms that outcomes are significantly improved through digital engagement with solutions like the ixlayer platform. This study found that providing patients with computer patient portal access and combining it with mobile patient portal access are associated with significantly improved diabetes medication adherence and glycemic control, with greater benefits among patients with more clinical need6

It’s simple: the ixlayer testing platform and sample collection kits provided under the customer’s own brand, paired with longstanding partnerships in the retail and payer space help improve healthcare outcomes.     

The Ripple Effect: Benefits for All

When health plans and retailers champion regular HbA1c screenings, the impact extends beyond individual health. Communities become healthier, healthcare systems more efficient, and costs more manageable. This holistic approach benefits health plans by leading to improved outcomes, higher member satisfaction, and progress toward quality benchmarks.

The journey to better health begins with awareness, education, and actionable steps. Regular HbA1c screenings embody this ethos by providing individuals with the insights they need to make informed decisions about their health. Health plans and retailers are pivotal players in this journey, fostering a culture of proactive health management that leads to healthier, happier lives. By collaborating, advocating, and facilitating screenings, they weave a brighter, healthier future for us all.


1. CDC. The Health and Economic Benefits of Diabetes Interventions. Date accessed: 9/18/23
2. ADA. The Cost of Diabetes. Date accessed: 8/24/23
3. Diabetes Research Institute. Diabetes Statistics. Date accessed: 9/18/23.
4. CDC. Health and Economic Benefits of Diabetes Intervention. Date Accessed: 8/24/23.
5. Jama. A Randomized Trial of the Effect of Community Pharmacist and Nurse Care on
Improving. Date Accessed: 8/24/23
6 Jama. Association of Mobile Patient Portal Access With Diabetes Medication Adherence and
Glycemic Levels Among Adults With Diabetes. Date Accessed: 8/24/23.
*HEDIS is a registered trademark of the National Committee For Quality Assurance (NCQA)